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Bruce: Moving Mac computing to Apple TV output


What's Bruce? Aside from being a punchline to a rather silly Monty Python video, it's also an amusing little testbed that I've been putting together to see how far I can push the Apple TV's utility, whether for creating information kiosk installations or bringing rich information out from the office and into the living room.

Bruce is basically an image server. The images served are generated on the Mac side of the world and pushed through to a vanilla, unjailbroken Apple TV. Bruce currently offers two modes: a date/time/weather display that updates in real time and a screenshot mode that pushes updates to the Apple TV every few seconds.

The engine under Bruce's covers is essentially the same one that powers my AirFlick application, which allows you to push videos and photographs to Apple TV. Bruce plays a different role in that the focus isn't just on relaying pre-existing content but generating new content live.

It's not just about creating smarter screen savers (which is, basically, what the weather report option is all about) -- it's also about thinking how to publish compelling information snippets to what is, otherwise, a passive public display. It's all about pushing information to the Apple TV from the computer, rather than pulling requests by the Apple TV user. This is not an unexplored arena by any means, but for just US$99 for the Apple TV, it's a newly affordable and hackable one.

If you want to give Bruce a try, I threw a build up on my website for you to play with. I'm particularly interested in hearing from readers as to how you think the Macintosh/Apple TV relationship can grow and what kinds of rich information the Apple TV would benefit from receiving passively.

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