ActiveVideo builds voice-controlled TV navigation platform

Interactive TV technology vendor ActiveVideo networks is adding voice-controlled TV navigation to its product portfolio, with plans to demonstrate a system at the Consumer Electronics Show this week which could allow a cable subscriber using an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone to channel surf by speaking commands into the phone.

ActiveVideo CloudTV

ActiveVideo produced a series of YouTube spots about CloudTV. Click here for the video.

The company said the demonstration in Las Vegas will show how a subscriber with an iPhone 4GS could use the Siri personal assistant application to control a digital set-top through commands that are relayed through its CloudTV H5 platform. A viewer would be able to request that the program guide "show all movies with Brad Pitt" or "show all the Harry Potter movies," according to ActiveVideo.

ActiveVideo, which supplies interactive TV technology to Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) system in Hawaii, is backed by interactive TV pioneer Gary Lauder, who is a big proponent of voice-recognition technology. Lauder also owns Promptu, a technology company focused on voice recognition software. Promptu has developed software that allows mobile phone users to make travel reservations with voice commands and use voice command to create text messages and posts on Twitter or Facebook.

Formerly known as AgileTV, Promptu had attempted to distribute voice-activated remote controls that contained microphones. While Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Insight Communications tested the remotes in 2005, they were never commercially deployed. Using mobile phones and tablet computers may prove to be a less expensive way to enable voice-controlled navigation than deploying high-end remote controls in cable homes.

There has been renewed interest in voice-enabled TV navigation in the last year thanks to Apple's introduction of Siri and Microsoft's Xbox 360 with Kinect, which allows users to utter voice commands to navigate content from Netflix and other online video sources. Cable subscribers from Comcast and Verizon's (NYSE: VZ)vFiOS TV can also use an Xbox Kinect to navigate some cable content.

Cable technology vendor Arris (Nasdaq: ARRS) may also enable voice commands through its Moxi interactive program guide, using technology first developed when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen owned the company. "The Moxi API (application program interface) is voice controllable. We're looking at enabling that again," Charles Cheevers, Arris CTO for its EMEA region, told FierceCable at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in November.

For more:
- see the news release

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Fierce15 2010 - CloudTV: ActiveVideo Networks