Connected TV is one of Yahoo!’s most innovative products. The basic idea is that your TV set should be as smart as other devices such as your smartphone or your tablet. In other words, the Connected TV is always connected to the Internet and is able to run its own Web-enabled applications. And, of course, the Connected TV also has a store from which you can download these applications.
One of the most interesting technologies in Yahoo!’s Connected TV is called Broadcast Interactivity (BI). BI allows the automatic identification of the show that is being watched in the TV set. This real-time knowledge about the show being watched creates a context for the enrichment of the user experience. For example, it is possible to supply additional content that complements the TV show, or targeted advertisements that take in consideration the show being watched.
We at Yahoo! Labs Haifa decided to develop an application to investigate the possibilities of BI combined with social networks. Our idea was to help the user to share his TV watching experience, through the automatic location of related content that could be posted in social networks. For example, if the user is watching a movie, he may want to post on his Facebook wall a YouTube link to the trailer of this movie. In a different scenario, the user may want to check the Facebook page for this movie and read what other users have been saying about it.
This application was called the Social Companion, and it was developed in one semester by two bright Technion students, Eitam Amit and Roy Velich, under my supervision together with my colleague Amit Kagian. I must say that Eitam and Roy did an outstanding work, learning in a short time how to develop applications for Connected TV, combining content from multiple sources and proposing several additional features to our initial concept. You can check their project site for more information, and see below a screen shot of the Social Companion application.
We hope that this project will motivate other young programmers to develop applications for Connected TV, and that in the future it will become a platform as popular as the other smart devices. If you want to learn more about Connected TV or about the Social Companion application, please use the comments below.