We met up with Gracenote, the smart database company, to hear how it's about to change television viewing as we know it. Working with pretty much every major brand of TV, two certain incoming consoles, and even some set-top boxes, this revolutionary technology should be in every home this time next year.
Gracenote will power these new television brains in three forms: a new smart eyeQ layout, a Gracenote Entourage app that updates automatically from hearing what you're watching, and visual recognition of shows that delivers offers and linked content based on what you're watching.
Imagine you're watching Sons of Anarchy - your tablet will instantly come up with plot synopsis, actor details, future shows and more. And, potentially, it could even link you to show merchandise like a Samcro hoodie with money off vouchers.
LG has already announced a Cinema 3D Smart TV line-up with Gracenote eyeQ technology powering its On Now service that lets you view what's on with images, descriptive metadata and listings. Much easier on the eyes than the current grid system we're stuck with. We were told by Gracenote that this layout should be appearing in other brands in the future with names like Samsung, Sony and Loewe all mentioned. Even next-gen consoles.
The Gracenote Entourage app intelligently listens to what's playing on your TV and automatically brings up the Gracenote database of information on that show. We were massively impressed when, during an advert about a donkey, it still managed to recognise the show that was on within seconds.
There is a show running in the US right now called the Million Second Quiz which lets you join in from the app at home. But because its smart linked you only have seconds to answer, so no cheating, which means the winner at home gets invited to be on the show and play for real money.
Future potential for this is immense, imagine watching a film and asking, "Who's that actor?", and the app intelligently answering immediately. It's not at that stage yet but this has huge potential, like watching the news and completing a live poll to see public opinion on air.
From an advertising perspective this allows people to interact with what's on the screen. In this Ford example the advert asks a question near the end to see if you've been paying attention. Engaging, but a little condescending. Yet it has great potential, imagine a quiz on an advert that lets you win prizes or money off the product being advertised.
Finally we were shown a new personalised recognition overlay that varies content based on who you are. By running connected to the internet through your TV, Gracenote can determine what's being watched and work out who lives in your home. Then based on who's watching it can tailor adverts to them. If a baby toy advert is about to play on terrestrial and your a single male it may overlay that ad space, exactly, with a car advert streaming from the web. Then you slip back into terrestrial viewing without ever noticing the difference.
This sounds scary but could mean less ad repetition and more things you might actually be interested in. It could also help improve TV smarts to allow for more accurate recommendations on what you may like to watch when you sit down.
While Gracenote was tight-lipped about the release date plans of its partners we could glean that this platform will be coming to most TVs, set-top boxes (including Virgin Tivo), smart Blu-ray players, and even the PS4 and Xbox One.
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