No More 'Jersey Shore': New TV Tells Advertisers, Retailers, and Everybody Else What You're Watching

By Veronique Greenwood | August 19, 2011 12:30 pm

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Best friends!!

Modern life is about maximizing information overload. So while you watch your favorite shows on the boob-tube, chances are you’re also surfing the Interwebs, looking for that actor’s screen credits, buying the season on DVD, checking other people’s real-time reactions. Ah, but what if your TV pulled up all that stuff for you, and helpfully displayed it on your computing device of choice, a la Google Ads in your email? Wouldn’t that be…something?

Before the end of the year, just such a TV will be released by a start-up called Flingo—a TV that, should you opt in to the service, will note what you’re watching and customize what your computer shows you. Technology Review got details from some officers of the company:

“Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDB and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it.” Social sites such as Facebook or Twitter can use the service to connect viewers to a TV show’s official page or stream. When a user flips channels, or a show ends, the Webpage being viewed knows about it and can instantly update to the new viewing.

But will people already primed by the various iPhone-tracking, Facebook-privacy-abusing events of the last few years activate this service on their TVs, especially the part of it that lets companies know what you’re watching so they can tailor ads?

Ashwin Navin, Flingo’s CEO and other cofounder, says he expects people to opt in because the service offers an automatic way to do what people are already doing manually. “People are doing the work to search for information to go with their viewing,” he says. “We’ll have all that information right there.”

Maybe. But automating things people would do anyway has got to be handled subtly, in the manner of Netflix or YouTube suggesting related videos. Do a little too much of what people are used to doing themselves, and you cross over into an uncanny valley of automation, where people are creeped out and annoyed at how closely your software is watching them.

[via Technology Review]

Image credit: avlxyz / flickr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: apps, internet, privacy, TV
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