Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): Comcast, Fisher-Price, Gracenote, Twitter, Nuance

--Comcast Launches AnyPlay Device for Streaming Live TV to Tablets within the Home
--Fisher-Price Launches Portable DVR for Preschoolers
--Gracenote Launches ACR-Powered Interactive TV Solution
--Gracenote Forms Partnerships with Twitter, Nuance Communications

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.

  • In a posting on the company's blog, Tuesday, Comcast's SVP of video product development, Mark Hess, announced the launch of AnyPlay, a device that allows streaming of live TV to tablet devices within the home. "With AnyPlay, you can watch the channels that are included in your linear channel subscription through the Xfinity TV app on the iPad, and very soon the Motorola Xoom tablet," Hess wrote. "This means that while someone else watches a program in the living room, for example, you can watch another show on your iPad from the backyard deck, kitchen or other places around the home. Here's how it works...the AnyPlay device works the same as any other set-top box in the home, but instead of delivering the incoming channel line-up to a television, AnyPlay delivers the line-up to the WiFi router on the home network. The router then distributes the secure video signal to the iPad or Xoom over your home's wireless network. So as long as your tablet is within range of the home wireless router, you can turn it into another television screen. Currently, we're making AnyPlay available to Xfinity HD Triple Play customers in areas of Denver and Nashville at no additional charge. If you don't live in Nashville or Denver, don't worry, as we plan to add more markets in the coming months. And while AnyPlay is for around-the-home viewing, the Xfinity TV app offers 8,000 hours of On Demand movies and TV shows that can be watched for free, both inside and outside of the home. Soon, we'll be bringing On Demand content to even more devices, such as the Xbox 360 and Samsung connected TV's."
  • Toymaker Fisher-Price has launched a device dubbed the Kid-Tough Portable DVR that is targeted at preschoolers. "It takes parents only a matter of minutes to simply attach the Kid-Tough Portable DVR to its base unit that is connected to their TV and set-top box (DVR, cable box, satellite box, digital converter box) and they can record their children's favorite TV shows," the company states in its press materials. "Recording can even be programmed for up to 24 hours in advance of the show's air time. The Portable DVR has easy-to-use, kid-friendly controls and contains a rechargeable battery for 4-6 hours of play time (the battery re-charges when the unit is docked). The built-in memory accommodates up to two hours' worth of content. Families heading on a cross-country road trip can expand the memory and stock up on the latest TV episodes before they leave the driveway by purchasing an additional memory card for the micro SD card slot. This will help minimize the 'are we there yet?' hollers from the back seat! In addition, the device features a 3.5-inch touchscreen interface and a slick, high-end design that preschoolers will love, in either pink or blue."
  • Sony-owned Gracenote on Tuesday launched an automatic content recognition (ACR)-based interactive TV platform called Gracenote Entourage. "At its core, Gracenote Entourage features audio fingerprinting technology that allows smartphones and tablets to instantly and automatically identify movies, TV programs and music in real time by simply 'listening' to short sound clips," the company states in its press materials. "Then, Gracenote Entourage unlocks data from the Gracenote database to create paths for TV viewers to explore related content, such as actor filmographies and advertising brands, and link to on-demand services to purchase, stream and download content that intrigues them. Gracenote Entourage can be featured on mobile devices or integrated directly into smart TV's to let viewers identify content from any source playing on-screen, whether it is coming from their cable box or streaming from an on-demand service. This creates opportunities for TV manufacturers to connect viewers to related programs and help them discover movies and TV shows from on-demand sources built into the smart TV. Gracenote Entourage is a fully hosted solution that leverages Gracenote's network infrastructure and rich set of global data, including descriptions of more than 130 million songs, as well as filmmaker and cast bios for movies, TV listings, and album and movie cover art which power the world's leading music and video products--from Apple iTunes and HTC smartphones to Ford Sync and Sony Bravia TV's." Gracenote is demo'ing Entourage in its booth (31106, South Hall, Upper Level) at CES; and Sony is demo'ing the solution working in tandem with an interactive TV app on the new Sony Tablet S in its CES booth (14200).
  • In other Gracenote news: 1) The company has announced a partnership with Twitter that will see Twitter Verified Accounts for musicians, actors and other artists integrated into its products. "When a music fan is listening to an artist through an online music service on their tablet or smart TV, Gracenote can deliver the artist's Twitter @username and public profile information, along with Gracenote music metadata, song recommendations and cover art," the company states in its press materials. "This allows fans to view and interact with the artist's Tweets, follow the artist and engage with other fans, without launching another screen or leaving the media service." 2) The company has announced a 10-year strategic partnership with Nuance Communications "to accelerate voice innovations and next-generation solutions for interactive music and video experiences on phones, in cars, on smart TV's, and in the cloud...Nuance's leading voice and natural language understanding technologies will leverage Gracenote's MediaVOCS database of phonetic transcriptions of artist names, albums and music genres, as well as movie and TV metadata," the companies' press materials continue. "The combined technologies will be made available as one solution via Nuance later this year--VoCon Music Premium."

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