Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google, Interactive TV, and CoTV

There is recent buzz about Google getting into ITV (Interactive TV). In addition to some recruiting (with a senior hire of Vincent Dureau from Open TV), Google researchers recently attracted some attention from a report on an experimental TV+PC service.

That service was said to supplement the mass-media experience of television with a personalized Web-based experience: "Our goal is to combine the best of both worlds: integrating the relaxing and effortless experience of mass-media content with the interactive and personalized potential of the Web, providing mass personalization." The paper won "best paper" award at the Euro Interactive Television Conference. A note from the authors and link to the paper is on the Google Research blog.

How and when Google will go there seems unclear. When I asked Chris Sacca of Google about it at a recent conference, he suggested it was research at this stage, and not in any current product plan. Interestingly, one of the references cited in that paper was paper from 2003 which happened to have as a coauthor some guy named "Brin, S." So it is reasonable to think Google has some real interest there. Obviously, the ability to link Web ads to TV programs and ads would be a killer.

Especially interesting to me is the fact that what these papers describe is essentially an applicaton of CoTV, coactive TV, which I have been working on and promoting for some time.

Some of the key points of similarity:

  • CoTV addresses two screen PC+TV applications
  • It includes a variety of technical methods to link the PC and TV without need for cooperation of the TV programmers or distributors. This includes audio sensising as described by the Google Euro ITV paper, but I think the most appealing solution is just to put a little software in a network connected TV (such as a media center or DVR or advanced TV) that tells the PC/Web service what channel or program is on).
  • Among many other applications, it addresses the kind of "Query-Free...Search" described in the 2003 Google paper that basically uses the TV program to drive related searches, thus "automatically selecting web pages that a user might want to see while watching a TV program."

For more on CoTV, check out the Web site.

The two Google papers are:

Tags: Simultaneous Media Use Concurrent Media Use