Philips brings us the DVR which “knows what we like”

4 09 2007

Spin back to the early 2000’s and the TiVo service was a true revelation in broadcasting. Finally, with the ushering in of a DVR which a) let you self-select the TV you want to watch, when you want to watch it; b) allowed you to skip the boring bits (commercials); and c) re-ignited your enthusiasm for what the medium was capable of delivering. Well, a killer combination.

But then there was TiVo personalisation, the so-called intelligent agent, which anyone with any sense switched off, which also, helpfully, suggested other programmes which migt tickle our pickle.

Forget Amazon-style “Others who bought this, also liked this” type of approach, bring on random selections of content based on: a) deeply flawed content genre associations; b) stuff which you not only wouldn’t like, but absolutely hate. Epitomised, ultimately, not that the sentence preceding this should be linked, to the Wall Street Journal‘s now-infamous 2002 headline: If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here’s How to Set it Straight.

A ‘revelation’ in personal TV has been promised since the early noughties, yet nobody has yet come up with an agorithm capable on delivering against the promise.

But hang on, today, consumer electronics supremos Philips say they can…

So techies: here’s the challenge: before you disappear back into your dens to improve all of our lives, consider this — personalisation technology has to deliver against consumer expectation at least 99% of the time or greater, unless you’re content with ending up in the graveyard of inventions that weren’t meant to be.

I switched my TiVO recommendations off years ago, because they aren’t capable of delivering a true reward. Nor is keyword or favourite actor / director-based criteria. For every film or programme which truly delivers, I get 100s more which don’t.

TV is an emotional connection, start there and build. In the meantime, I look forward to Philips bring me the brave new world of stripping Dutch housewives (which might be fun, if in traditional costume), but otherwise, not figuring within my already trash-enriched vieqwing diet.

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