Rovi Rolls Voice-Activated Personalized Program Guide

By Steve Donohue, for [itvt]

Los Angeles – The Cable Show -- Two months after acquiring voice search technology firm Veveo, Rovi plans to pitch cable operators attending the industry’s annual convention here an interactive program guide that lets subscribers receive personalized content recommendations based on voice commands.

Rovi’s new “personalized discovery solution” does more than respond to commands such as “channel up” or “channel down” – a feature that Microsoft introduced to pay TV subscribers that buy an Xbox with Kinect.

Rovi said its product uses “voice enabled, natural conversation interaction” to suggest content to subscribers using apps on smartphones and tablets to navigate programming delivered to TVs.

A subscriber would be able to navigate programming by speaking commands such as, “show me some James Spader shows,” and “play the next episode of The Black List.

Rovi also announced on Monday deals with Entone and Evolution Digital that could help it license cloud-based program guides to cable operators and telcos. The agreements will see the tech vendors develop customized versions of Rovi guides for subscribers using devices ranging from digital terminal adapters to IP-based set-tops.

Voice-based navigation continues to gain traction in the pay TV industry, with distributors exploring solutions that rely on smartphones and tablets, or new remote controls containing microphones.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated a voice-activated remote at last year’s National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention in Washington, D.C. While Comcast hasn’t yet commercially deployed a voice-activated remote control for its X1 platform, Universal Electronics has said that it is building a voice-activated remote for Comcast. Both Universal and rival remote vendor SMK Electronics have previously demonstrated remotes that rely on the Wi-Fi direct standard to control set-tops.