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Tuesday June 20, 2006 5:28 pm

Your Television Talks - Google Listens

Posted by John Goulden Categories: Google, Home Entertainment

Google“Mass personalization” is name of the game according to Google, and it could change the way you watch TV.  The brainiacs at Google have come up with a process whereby your computer listens to the television program being viewed, and then searches out related information.  Imagine watching a movie, and having Google pull up relevant data from the IMDB or the Wikipedia, without having to lift a finger.  If nothing else, it will help solve the eternal question of “what else have I seen that actor/actress in?”  The downside, if there is one, is that the technology could also be used for the purposes of evil

to display advertising that ties in with the program being watched.

Google’s technology is not the first of its kind. The Shazam music service allows users to submit a snippet of a song by holding their mobile phone near the source for 30 seconds, minutes later receiving a text message with the artist’s name and title of the song. But according to Covell and Baluja, the Google technology requires only five seconds of sound to identify a TV show. Once the program has been identified, the technology scours the Internet for relevant data and media content. “All of this would be done without users ever having to type or to even know the name of the program or channel being viewed,” they wrote. “We could collect snippets from the Web describing the actors appearing in a movie or present maps of locales within the movie as it takes place, no matter if users are watching it as a live broadcast or as a recorded broadcast,” the researchers wrote. The researchers said the technology poses no threat to user privacy because it does not allow reverse mapping from audio to summary statistics. They also said the technology will not be able to understand nearby conversations.

So when can you expect to have this technology in your hands?  Possibly never as Andrew Frank, a Gartner research analyst, points out that “This falls into the speculative category and I think it is important to take this technology for what it is, which is an interesting, speculative experiment to determine what might be possible in some hypothetical scenario,” Frank said. “I think the chances of this becoming a product are pretty slim.”

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