If you've ever used an internet-connected TV set to watch pay-per-view programming, you'll know that they ask for an authentication password every time, which can be a mild irritant. If only they could act like computers and remember what they've been granted access to or not - something Hitachi Japan appears to have solved.
The key to the simplified process is just that - a key, or at least a software equivalent [Subscription link]. Hitachi has applied the PKI (public key infrastructure) technique used in many other online situations where validation is required to allow individual TVs to assert their own identity.
Distro network in place
A one-off authentication should allow software embedded in the sets to remember what they're approved to connect to in much the same way a cookie functions on a PC, albeit with greater security.
Hitachi hopes the PKI method will become standard for delivering online programming without a set-top box, something its participation in the Japanese acTVila VOD service makes very likely indeed.