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Google wants to watch television with you

Google is rolling out products relentlessly, and for the most they are useful. This latest idea reported by InfoWeek seems like overkill, though, and has turned us cold:

Two Google research scientists want your computer to watch television with you so it can deliver personalized Internet content at the same time.

In a research paper presented last week at interactive television conference Euro ITV in Athens, Greece, Google researchers Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja propose using ambient-audio identification technology to capture TV sound with a laptop PC to identify the show that is the source of the sound and to use that information to immediately return personalized Internet content to the PC


The piece mentions advertising as one of the possibilities of this feature, and that of course is what we think of when we read this sort of thing. Advertising used to be a side-show to Google's greater mission, but increasingly seems front and center. Google promises privacy, and we do have option to never to use this, so that is good.

Some other recently released Google features aren't so bad. There's the Google AJAX Search API, which lets you integrate a Google search module into your web pages so your users can mash up Google search results with other content on your site or add search results clippings to their own content.

And another one, the Google Browser Sync extension for Firefox, is quite useful. It allows you to save your bookmarks, history and passwords on Google servers, which means you can port your preferences to any computer running Firefox.

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I think the idea of relevant content based on television programming is pretty cool. Imagine watching the something about Ancient Greece on the history channel and having relevant links to get more detailed information on the most interesting content. Most of these types of programs are just an overview of the subject matter anyway, but this type of integration would turn them into a table of contents allowing the viewer to dive deeper wherever and whenever they choose.

And on the advertising side imagine the next time 24 makes cheesy reference to Cisco's "Self Defending Network" their being more information to see exactly how Bauer protects CTU's data.

Of course having to watch TV with a laptop would suck so I think convergence of home entertainment devices and networking will provide significant short-term barrier to this type of service taking off.

Andrew Fife on June 10, 2006 12:38 AM
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