There's a problem with Smart TVs -- they really aren't all that smart. While having WiFi-equipped sets that can run apps and stream content from the web might make them seem smart, TV's don't actually know what content is onscreen when they're showing, you know, regular broadcast television. (Which is still what those TVs are most used for.) Cognitive Networks, however, has figured out how to make those televisions aware of what's happening onscreen, and LG is the first manufacturer to leverage the technology with its LivePlus service. LivePlus was first revealed at the launch of Showtime's Sho Sync app last week, but the Cognitive Networks' technology powering LG's platform can do so much more than just display character backgrounds, trivia and other info. To fully appreciate the breadth of possibilities the tech provides, however, it's important to know how it actually works.
Like smart TVs, television networks operate in a dumb system -- once content is broadcast, networks know nothing about who's actually consuming that content or what device eventually displays it. Cognitive Networks can deliver that information to networks and telcos by installing a small script on a Smart TV that sends a constant stream of visual data of what's being displayed into the cloud. Then the company identifies the content using Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) algorithms and notifies the TV network that its show is being watched. After getting the notification, networks can send back a URL to trigger a relevant event or open an app on your TV. They can choose certain times in the show to trigger certain notifications to perfectly tailor the viewing experience, too. Oh, and that entire process happens in less than a second.
Think of it this way, if the broadcast layer and the app layer were the chocolate cookies of an Oreo, Cognitive Networks' technology is the tasty bit in the middle connecting them. This basic framework can do more than provide additional show info, viewer polls and trivia games, too. It can do downloadable coupons or ask if you'd like to set a reminder to tune to an upcoming show with a single button press, for example. The API could also enable some truly helpful functions -- like offering to let you start playing a show from the beginning via VOD should you tune in to a program late, or make content recommendations based upon your viewing habits when a show is over, a la Netflix.
Of course, the types of functionality will be up to the content providers to build and implement, as Cognitive Networks only supplies the infrastructure, and LG builds the TVs that gives those providers what's needed to make such features possible. So, we can expect there to be a fair share of dynamically inserted ads and promotions on sets equipped with such technology, but the good news is users can opt out if they so desire. Here's hoping the networks give us some of the helpful stuff too.
Cognitive Networks Selected by LG Electronics to Enable Enhanced TV Capabilities on Smart TVs
Cognitive Networks' New Engage™ Real-Time Data Service, Powered by ACR Technology,
Transforms the Way Viewers Consume TV
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 28, 2013 – Cognitive Networks, a market leading provider of real-time data services that power Enhanced TV on Smart TVs, today announced LG Electronics will be the first to integrate Cognitive Networks' real-time data service on its Smart TV platform, enabling a more robust "Enhanced TV" experience for consumers.
Enhanced TV allows viewers to run applications that augment the TV viewing experience on Smart TVs. The implementation of Cognitive Networks' technology on LG Smart TVs initiates a fundamental transformation of the way viewers consume TV, while delivering a platform for content producers and TV networks to increase viewer engagement and grow their audiences.
Engage is a cloud-based data service that provides real-time event triggers to application providers. Powered by proprietary Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology, the triggers are accurate to the second and allow application providers to launch opt-in based applications on LG Smart TVs used in the U.S., which are intelligently synchronized with live or time-shifted television. Consumers that choose to launch the applications will enhance their TV viewing experience with a variety of fun and interactive capabilities.
"The integration of Engage into the LG Smart TV platform opens the door to greater opportunities for many stakeholders and fuels the growth of a more vital Smart TV ecosystem," said Michael Collette, CEO of Cognitive Networks. "Engage aligns with LG's 'Life's Good' mission and complements LG's leadership in bringing innovative Smart TV applications to consumers. We are looking forward to revolutionizing the Smart TV industry with this collaboration."
Consumers will have complete control of the apps they launch and access, ranging from ordering a pizza, responding live to opinion polls, interacting with reality shows in real time, and engaging with a variety of new social TV options based on today's popular social media platforms – all using the intuitive LG Magic Remote.
With Enhanced TV, content producers and TV networks can push deeper engagement for increased brand value by boosting viewership, watch time and new audiences, while advertisers will be able to pinpoint what viewer's interests are and provide more targeted advertisements based on their preferences.
LG's 2013 and 2012 Smart TVs now incorporate Cognitive Networks' Engage Enhanced TV capabilities to enable LG's LivePlus synchronous TV service for applications such as the new SHO Sync app, just launched by SHOWTIME® on LG Smart TVs. A video of the anticipated viewing experience can be seen here.