BBC trials artificial-intelligence and voice-recognition technology for iPlayer

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 August 2017 in News

Broadcaster envisions future where users converse with their television

Microsoft's technology, which the BBC is currently trialling, is designed to allow users to log in by saying their name and a short phrase  Credit: BBC

The BBC is trialling technology that would allow people to log into and operate their iPlayer accounts via voice-recognition technology.

The broadcaster is working with Microsoft on an internal proof-of-concept project.  The technology vendor’s artificial intelligence technology, which is designed to recognise the tone, modulation, and pitch of users’ voices, is currently being tested by the BBC.

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The aim is to create a working platform which allows users to access their iPlayer account by simply uttering their name and a short phrase. Once they are successfully signed in, the technology could also enable viewers to access genres; for example, saying “BBC – show me something funny” could bring up a list of comedy programmes, the broadcaster said. Users could also request specific programmes by name.

In blog, BBC head of digital partnerships Cyrus Saihan said: “As the technology advances, voiceprints and artificial intelligence could enable even greater levels of personalisation. For example, if you’re watching a programme on your tablet on your way back from work then, later on, when you’re settling down on the sofa, your TV could ask you if you wanted to carry on from where you left off. You might respond ‘No thanks, is there anything new I might like?', and be offered some suggestions.”

He added: “If we look further into the future, when artificial intelligence and machine learning have advanced sufficiently, you could end up in a conversation with your TV about what’s available to watch now, whether you like the sound of it or not, whether there’s something coming up that you’re interested in, and what you like to watch when you’re in a certain mood. All the time, your TV service would be learning about your preferences and getting smarter about what to suggest and when."


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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