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BBC experiments with voice recognition for iPlayer

BBC joined forces with Microsoft to build an experimental version of iPlayer

The BBC has joined forces with Microsoft to build an experimental version of iPlayer that uses AI to allow users to log in using their voiceprint.

In a blog on the BBC’s website, Cyrus Saihan, head of digital partnerships, said the experiment also allowed users to search using voice recognition.

“What we have built here is only a proof of concept and we are still at the very early stages for voice interfaces,” said Saihan.

“Our experiment focused on getting the basics right – creating a working internal prototype that allows you to sign in using your voiceprint. Once signed in, you can see all of the editorially curated programmes and personalised recommendations that you normally would.”

“As the technology advances, voiceprints and artificial intelligence could enable even greater levels of personalisation,” said Saihan. “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.”

“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.”

Saihan suggested the voice recognition could go even further than just making it easier to log in or search for a series. “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.”