Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): Jinni, Omek Interactive, News Corp., Microsoft, Sesame Workshop
--Jinni TV Guide Unveiled at CES
--Jinni Teams with Omek Interactive to Offer Gesture-Based Video-Content Navigation System
--News Corp. in Xbox 360 Connected-TV Apps Deal with Microsoft
--Sesame Workshop Partnering with Microsoft to Develop Interactive Episodes of "Sesame Street"
Due to the large volume of news being generated by this week's 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several days to process all the news from the show: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. While the [itvt] editorial team catches up with CES news, please check out the live Twitter coverage of the show from [itvt] bloggers, Will Keller and Zachary Weiner, by following the @tswedlow Twitter feed.
- Jinni, a Tel Aviv-based company that has developed what it bills as a "taste-and-mood-based" video-discovery engine, unveiled its new Jinni TV guide at CES, Tuesday. "The user-centric TV platform, designed as an answer to the traditional program guide, offers new 'effective social' features, while still upholding Jinni's primary focus on personalization, through user taste profiles and mood-based discovery powered by the Entertainment Genome," the company states in its press materials. "TV viewers today do not always know what they want to watch; they do not have a specific program or movie title in mind and eventually flip through channels searching for content that will fit their current mood and personal tastes. The Jinni guide assists by offering an intuitive content-discovery solution, with two available areas, each representing a different approach to content discovery: The 'Picks' area provides a true lean-back experience; this is the viewer's comfort zone, where titles from both the linear and VOD catalogs, which were pre-selected for him by the system based on his personal Taste Profile, are available to him for easy picking. The Jinni Taste Profile is uniquely created for every viewer and presents him, and his household, with a number of richly defined taste collections that were automatically created based on their specific watching habits and consumption history. For example, a user's Taste Profile can reflect his tendency towards 'clever stories about criminal heroes' on one hand, and also towards content about 'cynical family relations' on the other. These recommendations (the Picks) can be viewed via a number of different menu options: 1) Taste--where the viewer can explore his taste collections and select content that will reflect his mood at that given moment; 2) Live for Me--a smart feature that provides an easy answer to the basic question 'what's airing right now that I would enjoy?,' where Jinni scans the entire TV program guide for the next couple of hours and displays only the shows and movies that fit the user's Taste Profile; 3) Neighbors--one of the many 'effective social' options, where the viewer may explore what others, with similar Taste Profiles to his, are watching and recommending. This smart feature goes beyond standard sharing; it collects relevant profiles from connected networks and communities to feature only those that are relevant to the viewer. The 'Explore' area is a lean-forward experience where the viewer can intuitively explore and discover different types of available content according to his mood. This is Jinni's answer to random channel zapping and is one of the features supported by the Entertainment Genome which enables users to define and refine their content by mood, plot, audience, time period, and more. The endless flipping through VOD catalog pages of 'Drama,' 'Action' or 'Romance' is finally a thing of the past. With a Jinni guide the viewer can search as he thinks or speaks, by using natural metaphors; if he is in the mood for something funny, slightly cynical, with an underlying story about friendship that takes place in an urban environment--that is what he should be looking for. The Jinni guide will understand a search query for 'funny and cynical friendship in the city.' Additionally, if we take into consideration the direction that voice control technology is taking, it won't be long before the viewer will actually be able to 'talk' to the TV set and say straight out exactly what it is he wishes to watch. Jinni's answer to the popularly growing social trend is visible in several significant features: the 'neighbors,' which as previously mentioned allows an effective alternative to social content recommendations; a 'watch together' feature that enables household members the option to define changing groups of viewers and receive recommendations accordingly (relevant by taste to all members of the group); and last but not least, the standard known social features, i.e. sharing, connecting with friends, viewing friends feeds and recommendations, etc."
- In other Jinni news: The company has announced a partnership with gesture-recognition/body-tracking technology provider, Omek Interactive, that the partners say will enable them to offer a gesture-enabled video content-navigation system for consumer electronics manufacturers and content service providers. "The prototype solution, which is being demonstrated at the Omek CES booth (3619, North Hall) and the two companies' CES hospitality suites, combines Omek's Beckon technology with Jinni's unique semantic discovery engine for movies and TV shows, creating a gesture-enabled video discovery interface," the companies state in their press materials. "The result allows viewers a natural and intuitive way to discover the film and television content that is best attuned to their tastes and moods, by using gestures to find and refine selections based on rich combinations of attributes (such as 'thought-provoking love story' or 'clever cons and scams') that go far beyond standard genres or popular categories typically used in content selection guides. The gesture-control system also allows users to control the video stream, once selected, allowing them to play, pause, rewind and exit back to the video discovery interface. The demonstration solution also simulates the next phase in the product's development, which will use Omek Beckon technology to distinguish between different individuals based on their skeletal dimensions and other physical attributes. Omek enables the user to be identified and 'recognized' by his TV, allowing the interface to retrieve that user's pre-calculated set of 'tastes' created by Jinni's proprietary Taste Profile algorithms, resulting in an effortless selection of recommendations, reflecting his semantic taste based on previous preferences. Households will be able to set up profiles for each family member, and the Jinni semantic discovery engine will provide unique recommendations for each individual or, when needed, will cross-reference between profiles in order to deliver recommendations that reflect the tastes of all who are gathered round the TV at any given moment. This will be the ideal customized video guide for families and multi-member households, offering the perfect solution for 'family night' or 'date night.' As facial gestures express a person's mood, and that mood defines the content he will most likely want to watch, the future possibilities for a product that brings together the approaches of both companies are endless."
- Microsoft and News Corp. on Tuesday unveiled plans to launch apps from Fox, Fox News, IGN Entertainment and The Wall Street Journal on the Xbox Live platform. The apps, which will be available to Xbox Live Gold members and which are slated to launch later this year, will be navigable via the Xbox's Kinect-powered voice- and motion-activated controls. "Video content from the Fox News Channel and Fox apps will be made available to authenticated subscribers of participating cable and satellite television distributors," the companies state in their press materials. "News Corp. expects to announce authentication agreements to support the Fox and Fox News apps in the near future. The Fox Broadcasting app will give authenticated subscribers access to Fox's popular primetime shows in a new category-defining app environment on the Xbox Live service. Extensive short- and long-form programming will be available through the Fox app, including on-demand availability of leading shows, such as 'Glee,' 'House,' 'New Girl,' 'Bones,' 'Fringe,' 'The Simpsons,' 'Family Guy' and others. The app will also include a number of interactive features, such as Facebook integration, as well as voice and motion control via Kinect. The Fox News Channel app will bring users access to hundreds of the most engaging news and entertainment videos straight to their home Xbox system. With your choice of on-demand videos to choose from, fans of Fox News Channel will be able to interact with their favorite shows, anchors and personalities--from Shepard Smith and Megyn Kelly to Bill O'Reilly. The app will also include voice commands and navigation with a controller and with simple gestures to help users get the most out of their experience, whether that's watching or socially sharing high-quality videos. WSJ Live from The Wall Street Journal will offer up to four total hours of live video programming each business day from across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, including the Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Barron's, MarketWatch, SmartMoney and AllThingsD.com. Users will be able to access seven half-hour live shows, breaking news updates, exclusive interviews and special events coverage. The service will also offer more than 2,000 videos per month from an extensive library of on-demand content. Dedicated to all-things gaming, the IGN Entertainment app will offer must-watch previews, reviews, gameplay videos and live streams, as well as instant access to game help walkthroughs and IGN's extensive catalog of popular shows, including 'The Daily Fix' and 'IGN_Strategize.' Fans of IGN.com can queue up videos from a browser with a new 'watch later' feature, bringing great gaming content to the biggest screen in the house. The app will also have full support for Kinect magic, voice control, and Facebook sharing. IGN first hit the platform in 2008 with its 'Strategize' show, which has been viewed more than 40 million times."
In related news: During Microsoft's CES keynote, Monday, the Sesame Workshop revealed that it is working with Microsoft to develop interactive episodes of the children's show, "Sesame Street." Children will be able to interact with the episodes via Kinect gestural control technology, which Sesame Workshop representatives described as the "perfect input device" for preschoolers. The BBC's Leo Kelion has more.