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Thursday, November 04, 2004
Google Working On TV Search?
This paper by Sergey Brin and other Googlers devises a way to match TV reports to news reports, by devising a software model that analyzes the closed captioning for keywords. The abstract says that the algorithm proved highly effective, matching a relevant topic 84-91% of the time, and the exact topic 64% of the time.

What is the point of this? Google is looking at ways to match television, which it says has a "passive nature", with additional, more detailed information. Two current applications that can benefit from this technology are listed:
  • The Intercast system, developed by Intel, allows entire HTML pages to be broadcast in unused portions of the TV signal. A user watching TV on a computer with a compatible TV tuner card can then view these pages, even without an Internet connection. NBC transmitted pages via Intercast during their coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympics.

  • The Interactive TV Links system, developed by VITAC (a closed captioning company) and WebTV (now a division of Microsoft), broadcasts URLs in an alternative data channel interleaved with closed caption data [17, 2]. When a WebTV box detects one of these URLs, it displays an icon on the screen; if the user chooses to view the page, the WebTV box fetches it over the Internet.
Google is looking to get itself on your TV. HDTV allows for a lot of interaction and connectivity, be it with the internet, your computer, or just data over the airwaves. If Google can take its technology and make it available for free to TV companies, those companies will probably just dump it in. Google will get its logo on TVs, and can leverage its search engine, and thus AdWords, in relation to TV content. That's the benefit to Google.

The benefit for you? You watch the Presidential election, and hit the GoogleTV button on your remote, and you can pull up streaming data on your favorite swing state. Want to find out the scores in other games? Hit the GoogleTV button and watch as the top search results all pop up relating to ongoing games. Want to follow a story? Hit the button and set up a Google News Alert so that when the story changes, you get an email, or even better, a pop-up on the TV during whatever it is you're watching. Find Fox News too Republican? Call up a New York Times story on the same subject without leaving your couch.

This may only be speculation, but if Google and its billionaire founder put the time into this research, you gotta believe there's some plan to make it work big for the company. The paper makes clear that while they tested it on news stories, it will be designed to work with other genres, like "sports, wheather, and 'general' topics". Is Google TV Search coming? All signs point to yes.
(kudos to Greg Linden of Findory for the link)

Hey, Nathan. Great discussion of the products that could be developed with this technology! It will be interesting to see if Google partners with a major cable provider or TiVo to deliver additional content to television.
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