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.
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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.