Viewer interface for TV layers Web content for context
March 8, 2014 by Nancy Owano
(Phys.org) —In past years, the television was less fondly called the idiot box. Today the TV is more fondly being promoted as a potential informationalized box, signified by technology offered by a new device appearing on Kickstarter called InAiR. This is a piece of hardware that is made to serve as a viewer interface for the TV, whether you are watching on a 3DTV or 2DTV, pulling up relevant content from the Web and displaying it inline. The InAiR gadget comes in the form of a smart HDMI adaptor plugged into the TV and set top box. You could be getting a screen display of a space exploration event augmented by a supplementary sidebar from NASA or you could be viewing a global sporting competition supplemented by detailed data from an online site. The makers of InAiR, SeeSpace, are noting that with this device there is no more neck-straining in second screen viewing required, where the viewer looks up and down between laptop and TV screen, to see and learn. SeeSpace is referring to the device as delivering "augmented television." Viewers navigate information feeds with a single viewing experience.
"As long as television has been around," said the man in the promotional video, "we sat and waited for the story to come to us…what if the space could live and breathe and you could control the story? This is the new frontier and it is called InAiR."
Screen navigation can be done by turning an iOS or Android mobile device, including smartwatches, into a trackpad type of controller via the download of a free InAiR app, for use as remote control. Gesture control is also available via Kinect or Leap Motion. The company intends to provide an SDK to enable support for future devices.
How it works: You plug InAiR between the TV and set top box InAiR connects "intelligently" to learn what you are watching and gathers relevant Internet and social content, processes these, and places layers of information in front of the screen realtime, working with 3D or with 2D TVs. According to the team, they have a patented InAiR content recognition engine based on their own algorithms, to identify relevant Internet and social content The engine also allows a user to search for specific terms while watching the TV program, through the trackpad app. SeeSpace said its engine is based on "ACR" technology, which stands for automatic content recognition. The device combines technology such as channel guide, teletext and voice layer to understand context based on keywords. "The technology takes all of the information and grabs readily available content from the Internet," said the company site.
Founded last year, SeeSpace is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in London and Hanoi. InAiR was actually showcased at the CES show in January, where SeeSpace co-founder and CEO Nam Do said, "Viewers don't want to watch TV in isolation any more. They want context: graphics, information and social engagement."
Coming up with a single view interface is proving to be an attractive idea based on the crowdfunding response to SeeSpace's Kickstarter page. The team turned to crowdfunding because they said they already bootstrapped the project and are ready for the next stage, to move it into production. At the time of this writing the page revealed that out of their $100,000 goal the team raised $172,878.
Pledges of $99 get a standard InAiR that does not support 3D formats. Pledges of $149 get a device that works with both 2D and 3D TVs. In 3D, the interface is floating in front of the screen. Estimated delivery is September 2014.
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