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The TV That Watches You
August 26, 2011 | William Zimmerman
A television due out soon can tell websites and online advertisers which shows you're watching, making Web pages more intelligent.
By Tom Simonite, MIT's Technology Review
Many people surf the Web while they watch television. Soon the websites they visit could adapt in real time to the shows being watched--automatically presenting information relevant to the show, or even tuning their ads in response to what's on screen.
A new type of Internet-connected television, due out before the end of the year, has built-in software and hardware that send data about what is on-screen to an Internet server that can identify the content. Web pages being viewed using the same Internet connection as the TV set can then tap into that information. The system can identify any content onscreen, whatever the source, whether live TV, DVDs or movie files playing from a computer.
Flingo, the San Francisco-based startup that developed the technology, known as Sync Apps, says the new set is already being mass-produced by one of the top five television brands in the U.S. and will retail for less than $500.
"Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now," says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. "For example, you could go to Google or IMDB and the page would already know what's on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it." Social sites such as Facebook or Twitter can use the service to connect viewers to a TV show's official page or stream. When a user flips channels, or a show ends, the Webpage being viewed knows about it and can instantly update to the new viewing.
[photo credit: MIT's Technology Review]
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