BBC and Microsoft partner to develop experimental iPlayer service capable of identifying users by their voices

BBC partners with Microsoft to develop next generation eavesdropping iPlayer

The BBC is collaborating with Microsoft to develop a proof of concept next generation iPlayer streaming service which could allow it to eavesdrop on living rooms to assist it in suggesting programmes to watch.

By harnessing voice data emanating from the world around it the BBC wants to go head to head with the likes of Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to offer a more personalised service.

The scope of this nascent iPlayer is such that it should be able to work out who is watching it and even whether they are viewing a second screen while doing so, enabling it to tailor suggestions more precisely – suggesting PG content when children are present or more adult fare after hours for instance.

Cyrus Saihan, BBC head of digital partnerships, wrote in a blog: “Just by listening to the voices in the room, your TV could automatically detect when there are multiple people in the living room, and serve up a personalised mix of content relevant to all of you in the room.

“When your children leave the room to go to bed, BBC iPlayer might hear that the children are no longer there and then suggest a different selection of content for you and your partner. All of this personalisation could happen without anyone having to press a button, sign in and out or change user profiles.”

This would amount to a marked change in emphasis from the current player which prioritises the human touch over algorithms.

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