Ashwin Navin, co-founder of BitTorrent and entrepreneur, is currently collaborating with various TV networks and electronics companies, trying to perfect the way Smart TVs connect with the internet. This will be accomplished by a software program called “Samba”.
Due to his experience and insight with BitTorrent’s technology, Navin has decided to give it a try with the entertainment industry.
“You can get a lot of great press, you can get all the bloggers and social media folks really excited with statements like, ‘I’m here to kill cable,’”, he said.
“But that doesn’t actually work. It’s not productive, because cable and subscription television is subsidizing and paying for the programming we love.”
On that regard, Navin’s company (Flingo) is proposing Samba, a piece of software that turns your smart TV into an even smarter one. The purpose of Samba is to “see” the images produced by your telly’s screen and then access and search its huge database of content. Once the face-recognition program finds relevant information (based on your viewing experience), that content gets transferred to other screen-based electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) right away. Moreover, the syncing is done automatically through the Internet.
“From a consumer point of view, [Flingo's] doing a nice job of stitching these things together based around a TV-centric experience,” Paul Gray, television research director for NPD DisplaySearch, said.
“And not trying to be a PC in your living room — which is the big danger.”
Flingo’s mission sounds hard, but the rewards could be worth all the trouble. Syncing your TV set with basically any other electronic device that has a processor and a screen sounds like an awesome step forward in terms of entertainment.
“If we can find ways to connect those screens, we can deepen the engagement with the show, we can remind people that they are watching TV,” Vice President of Platforms and Innovation at Fox, Hardie Tankersley, said.
“Being able to match the ads that you’re seeing on your laptop with the ads that are running on TV — that has tremendous potential for brands, who advertise both on TV and the Web. To be able to synchronize up is really powerful.”
The technology is already used by companies such as Zeebox, the Yahoo-owned IntoNow, and Shazam Entertainment Ltd. However, for each of these services to work you need to install an application (provided by them) to synchronize your TV habits with a smartphone or tablet. The gathered information – cast lists, plots’ synopsises, and various interactive activities – is then transferred to a smaller screen.
But Navin is driven to choose a much larger screen – the TV itself. Quickly growing in popularity, smart TVs are going nowhere else but up. According to NPD DisplaySearch, more than 43 million smart TVs are expected to be produced and shipped just this year, and more than double (95 million) by 2016.
Flingo’s experience with creating smart TV apps for big networks like A&E, Fox, History Channel, Lifetime, Showtime, and TMZ, is going to be a major advantage for Samba’s future.