Two research scientists from Google have come up with a way for your computer to quickly identify which show you’re watching on TV and feed personalized Internet content to you based on that choice. The system is based on ambient-audio identification technology and researchers Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja write: “The system could keep up with users while they channel surf, presenting them with a real-time forum about a live political debate one minute and an ad-hoc chat room for a sporting event in the next. Our goal is to combine the best of both worlds: integrating the relaxing and effortless experience of mass-media content with the interactive and personalized potential of the Web, providing mass personalization.” And while access to all that additional content might enhance your viewing pleasure, it would be a killer app for advertisers, offering them an unparalleled insight into the mass media audience. The researchers’ paper envisions adapting Google’s key-word advertising scheme to TV, allowing “content providers or advertisers to bid for specific television segments.” The result, says media expert Cynthia Brumfield, is that what Google’s technology “might end up doing, if it were deployed and gained traction, is siphoning even more people away from the TV to the Internet.”

InformationWeek 7 Jun 2006