Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): MTV, AKQA, Nuance, Panasonic, Philips

--MTV's Under The Thumb App Combines Video-Streaming, Social-TV, Remote-Control Functionality
--Nuance's Voice-Control Technology Integrated into Panasonic TV Sets
--Philips Revamps its Connected-TV User Experience

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012 (note: early-bird discount registration ends tonight!), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • At the Mobile World Congress Tuesday, MTV launched Under The Thumb, an iOS and Android app for the European market. The app, which was designed by creative agency AKQA, is billed as allowing users to stream shows on-demand, and to chat with their friends while doing so. It also doubles as a remote control for browser-equipped connected TV's, via a feature dubbed "polymorphic interface control." "People will flick between viewing and chatting by turning their phone from portrait to landscape, while co-viewing sessions can be scheduled by sending invites to friends with a specific time and date," the Guardian's Stuart Dredge explains. "If friends don't have the app, the invite and a download link will be posted on their Facebook walls." More information on the app, including its tiered pricing model, is available here.
  • Nuance Communications, which at CES launched Dragon TV, a voice-control platform targeted at TV and set-top box manufacturers and service operators (see the article published on, January 12th), said Monday that Panasonic is integrating the platform into a new portfolio of TV sets in order to provide "an intuitive and interactive experience with digital program guides...As TV's become increasingly connected, consumers now have an opportunity to experience a broad range and largely overwhelming amount of content--be it shows, movies, music and now Internet and social media content," the company's press materials continue. "With that comes the challenge of creating a truly interactive experience with media and content, with complicated and sometimes antiquated program guides. By integrating Nuance's innovative voice technology designed for the digital-TV experience, Panasonic will be able to provide its consumers with the ability to engage with and discover TV content faster and easier than ever before...Dragon TV is Nuance's unique voice and natural-language understanding platform for TV, device and set-top box OEM's and service operators. Dragon TV makes finding and accessing shows, movies and content in today's digital living room easy and fun for consumers. Leveraging Nuance's voice and natural-language understanding capabilities, Dragon TV creates the 'lean-back experience' consumers demand, with the ability to easily find and interact with content by speaking channel numbers, station names, show and movie names." According to Nuance, Panasonic has just started shipping voice-enabled Viera digital TV's in Europe.
  • Consumer electronics manufacturer Philips is bringing Internet connectivity to a broader range of its TV sets (including smaller, low-end models) and has unveiled a new user interface for its connected TV's (note: it is now referring to its connected-TV platform as "Smart TV" rather than "Net TV"). The TVs' home screen features a cloud-based UI that offers, among other things, a picture-in-picture display of the channel currently tuned to, the current time and weather for the viewer's location, and the ability for viewers to personalize it by organizing their favorite apps in the lower half. In addition, the company is rolling out its WiFi Smart Screen technology for its 8000-series sets, which enables the sets to stream programming to an iPad. The company says that its connected-TV platform now offers around 500 apps, and it is encouraging further development via a partner portal that offers developers an SDK, among other tools. Broadband TV News's Robert Briel has more.
North America