Is Intel planning an interactive TV service with facial recognition?

8 Jun 2012

Intel is understood to be working on a new interactive TV system that uses facial recognition to drive intelligent advertising. However, it is facing an uphill struggle winning over media partners for the venture.

Reuters reported today that the company is working on a set top box that can figure out which person or persons in the household is watching and use the facial recognition capabilities to drive targeted advertising.

While it won’t provide information about individuals the technology would be able to distinguish factors like age and gender.

For Intel the successful take-up of the technology will no doubt drive demand for next generation chips.

The arrival of this kind of intelligence comes at an interesting time as TV viewers increasingly drift towards catch-up TV and on-demand services like Apple TV for their content, rather than the traditional linear model.

Intel could also play a vital role in helping Hollywood defend its products against copyright infringement, using the facial recognition features to authenticate viewers with rights to the content.

Joining the dots, has it occurred to anyone that these very capabilities could be the features of a forthcoming television from Apple if the device happens to include Intel chips?

Real-time audience engagement

Another potential bonus could be real-time audience measurement that provides networks and advertisers with the same level of oversight that exists on the web rather than unreliable, old-fashioned metrics that focus on groups.

The entire TV industry is currently in a state of flux with smart TVs, consoles and DVR capable of delivering apps like Netflix and YouTube to the livingroom and the TV providing greater functionality than before in terms of Skype video conferencing and social networking via Twitter and Skype. This is not to mention greater integration with popular devices like smartphones and tablets which are now viewed as the second screen in most households.

Intel is already working with Liberty Global in providing chips for its Horizon set top box and Google is having another go with rolling out its own set top box.
Microsoft and Apple already have competing movie on demand services in the living room via the Xbox 360 and Apple TV respectively. And of course the big rumour of 2012 is whether or not Apple will bring out a fully fledged TV set.

Manufacturers like Panasonic and Samsung are also upping the ante in terms of apps and interactivity and Samsung’s latest ES8000 LED TV includes voice and motion control, as well as facial recognition.

Interactive TV image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years