Automatic Content Recognition: It knows what you’re watching

Remember when Shazam launched its revolutionary music recognition service? Now the service that has become a nightmare for pub quiz organisers everywhere is coming to television.

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) does to TV and film what Shazam and other music recognition services did for music. It enables a smartphone, tablet or Smart TV to discover exactly what is being shown on screen. Simply hold your device up to the speaker and wait a few seconds, just as you do now for tagging music.

Gracenote Entourage is one such service that extends beyond music recognition, which will be finding its way into new televisions from LG and Sony, as well as available to install as an app for tablets and smartphones. On older televisions, Sony already has its TrackID service (also powered by Gracenote) with a dedicated button on the remote control to tag music on a broadcast. In seconds, you are given the track information, with the ability to get artist information or get the full track from Sony’s Music Unlimited service.

Although most digital broadcasts come with a programme description that you can view by hitting the ‘info’ key, with services like Entourage, you’ll be able to get far more detailed information, along with cast lists and links to other sites and services. There might be an official app for the movie or TV show, for example.

The increasingly popular practice of sitting on the sofa with a smartphone or tablet to see what everyone is saying about The X Factor, grabbing more of your attention than the programme itself, isn’t going to go away – but in the future, it will be much easier to do more than simply read or create wisecrack remarks to share with the world. You will be able to do things like get behind-the-scenes information, catch up on the latest gossip, vote your favourite contestant to be saved until next week, send in questions to ask a panel and much more.

And, yes, it will also mean that you will now be perfectly primed and ready for more targeted advertising. Well, you didn’t think it was going to be a totally free ride, did you? However, adverts that you might actually be interested in have got to be better than the usual random ones that come up during the commercial break.

With ACR becoming integrated within a Smart TV itself, it means the smart features will no longer be a secondary part of the  TV, but actually become a part of it.

Of course, for this to really happen for more than a few flagship shows, it will need the general public to embrace the technology. Still, there’s always the ability to use the service in the pub quiz to identify what movie that audio clip just came from…

About author
Involved in tech since 1990, from selling mobile phones and computers, to writing about them for trade and consumer publications, such as Mobile News, What Mobile, Know Your Mobile and Stuff. If writing about mobiles wasn't exciting enough, being paid to watch TV during work hours is the icing on the cake. Jonathan on Google+

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