IBC 2014: Talking TV with Rovi

At IBC 2014, Amsterdam

Rovi have lately been widely extolling the importance of conversational interfaces for the future of TV search functions (on these pages among others), but it’s only in the course of a live demo at Rovi’s IBC booth that it becomes apparent precisely why they consider “talking TV” to be much more than a gadget.

After all, you can be as sophisticated as you like with your use of metadata (and Rovi’s Search and Recommendations Services are very sophisticated indeed), but the entire experience is definitely enhanced when all the viewer has to do is open their mouth, and ask “is there anything funny on TV tonight?” — and the TV not only responds, but reflects your sense of what constitutes ‘funny’.

It struck IP&TV News that the resultant effect is reminiscent of asking a friend or family member with the TV guide what’s on (way back when). They’d know what you like — and do the looking for you.

“One of the big things we’re trying to say is that it should be personalised in everything that you see,” Darren Gill, VP, Product Search and Recommendations told IP&TV News, during the live demonstration. “Don’t try and just put personalisation into a box – because if the system can understand what’s relevant to you, if it can listen to what you’ve been doing, why shouldn’t each selection, each thing that I put onto a screen, have some connection with me versus another person in front of the same screen.”

Gill explains that the conversational interface is integral to this.

“When we optimised that search, it was all about speed and relevance. When I know what I want, how fast can I get there? And so we were realising that once voice recognition got better, it would be super-fast. And it gives you this ability to do complexity. So if I think – ‘what did I see in the line-up the other day? The new Netflix series? I can’t think of it.’ It’s so fast for me to be able to say,” – he presses the remote – “‘What’s that show with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright?”

Sure enough, House of Cards pops up on the screen in front of us.

“Let’s even be more general,” Gill suggests. “‘When’s the game on?”

And it knows exactly which ‘game’ he’s referring to…

Rovi can be found in Hall 5, Stand A31 throughout this year’s IBC

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