Interactive TV News Round-Up (VI): Virgin Media, TiVo, Nestle, YouTube, Zazum

--Virgin Media Launches Android App for its TiVo-Powered Hybrid-TV Service
--Virgin Media Launches "Harry Potter" App on its TiVo-Powered Hybrid-TV Service
--Nestle's Wonka Brand Launches Interactive Video Channel on YouTube
--Start-Up Zazum Unveils Its Automatic Content Recognition-Based Tcommerce Platform

Because the [itvt] editorial team is on the road this week, we are covering stories in this edition of the newsletter in round-up format:

  • UK cable operator, Virgin Media, has launched the Virgin Media TV Guide, a free Android app for its recently launched, TiVo-powered hybrid-TV service. The app allows customers to "browse the TV guide, see what's on over the next seven days and remotely set recordings from their mobile device," Virgin Media states in its press materials. In addition, the company says, customers "can personalize the app by creating a list of their favorite channels to ensure they're kept up to date with the week's TV schedule, and, with a detailed synopsis for each program, telly fans can get the low-down on the latest episode, record their favorite show or series, and share what they're watching with friends and family by text or email."
  • In related news: To mark the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--Part 2," Virgin Media has launched a dedicated "Harry Potter" app for its TiVo-powered hybrid-TV service. "The new app, developed by Virgin Media with content from Warner Bros. Pictures, debuts in the Virgin Media TiVo Apps and Games section," Virgin Media states in its press materials. "It has been carefully created with 'Harry Potter' fans in mind, giving them a spellbinding range of 'Harry Potter' content to remind them of the thrills of this great series. To complement the new app, 'Harry Potter' fans will be able to re-live the magic of six of the 'Harry Potter' films on Virgin Media in preparation for the final showdown that hits cinemas nationwide on 15th July. Virgin Media TiVo customers can take a shortcut for easy access to all of the available movies through a dedicated collector’s folder that has been created to mark this very special occasion."
  • Nestle's Wonka brand has launched an interactive video channel on YouTube, dubbed the "Wonka Imagination Room." "Using both in-video captions and 360-degree video technology, the Wonka YouTube channel experience takes visitors across four whimsical Wonka rooms, each tied to a specific Wonka chocolate--Chocolate Waterfall, Scrumdiddlyumptious, Triple Dazzle Caramel, or Fantabulous Fudge," Nestle explains in its press materials. "Each Wonka-flavored room has its own unique way to make you see, hear, touch, and experience the world around you. The Wonka Imagination Room uses a combination of sensorial and technological techniques for the first time, with 360-degree videos that engage the senses and deliver an element of surprise unexpected from a YouTube experience. With the interactive Wonka Imagination Room, consumers can control the view and uncover different puzzles and other fun online challenges in the Wonka Imagination Room, giving the video-viewing experience an added layer of immersion and interactivity. With this technology, users not only can play and watch the videos, but actually interact and participate in the video experience at http://www.youtube.com/wonka.
  • Zazum, a New York-based company that is attempting to bring together automatic content recognition (ACR) and tcommerce, has announced that it has made "a big breakthrough in automatic content recognition for television and film by tagging specific products within a show. Using Zazum's proprietary mKues," the company's press materials continue, "broadcasters can signal multiple events throughout a television show, so mobile devices know not only what audiences are watching, but exactly what's on screen at each moment without resorting to timing, QR codes, or forcing viewers to pause the show and get off the couch to take a picture of their TV screens." Said Zazum founder and CEO, Susan Rits: "Most ACR, or automatic content recognition, uses fingerprinting, the kind of technology Shazam and IntoNow are using to identify TV shows and commercials. But we needed to do more than just identify the episode. We wanted to identify exactly what's on the television screen at each moment, and fingerprinting is not very good for that...We designed this technology for the 10-foot viewing experience--for people who watch TV on TV's, which is still 95% of television audiences." According to Rits, while Zazum's ACR technology has generated interest among "producers who want to make game shows interactive for audience members or trigger time-limited coupons, or just make companion apps for their shows," the company's primary focus is on "how to use the technology for brand engagement and shopping from TV." It has launched a tcommerce app, called SeeLoveBuy, in the Apple App Store, which it says "automatically recognizes each new cue" and then displays "information about what's on the TV screen." The app--which can be downloaded here--can currently be used in conjunction with a short film, entitled "Milkmade in Manhattan," available on iTunes and Vimeo (and embedded above).

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