The future of TV is personalised, says Philips. Aprico is a system developed by the Dutch tech giant's technology venture arm that automatically locates and filters relevant TV content. We were shown how the system works at a briefing led by Thomas Dvorak, Aprico's chief marketing officer.
Once the system has learned at least some of your preferences it can immediately begin to build up a personalised channel based on your preferences.
"It automatically records relevant shows," explains Dvorak as he scrolls down a list of readily available content. The system can begin to build the channel based on a single programme selection, which it can then improve as you watch more shows and digest more content – perhaps in terms of online video which, as Dvorak points out, isn't the best experience through a TV.
CREATE A CHANNEL: It's easy to create a channel for whatever content you choose - even while you're watching other content
Crucially though, video on demand (VoD) services can also be incorporated, providing new ways for broadcasters to put premium paid-for content in front of those who are most interested in it via a recommendation engine.
Aprico says that with just 17 days of use, accurate personalised profiles can be created for each user.
Ready-made channels are already available - while content providers could also seed these – and you can also create a channel from a search term, such as a director's name, for example.
Windows Media Center app
The first public-facing venture from Aprico is called Watchmi, and is a German plug-in for Windows Media Center that brings Aprico's personalisation to the desktop. Dvorak hopes that the technology will be implemented in set-top boxes or even TVs themselves in the near future.
Unlike Philips' uWand sytem, there are no special controls; Dvorak shows us the system using a standard Windows Media Center remote through which you access a scrolling EPG.
Dvorak says that a key point of the system is to "provide new revenue streams and [better] targeted advertising".
Aprico's own publicity material calls the system a "next-generation advertising platform" and, while it's clear that Aprico is designed to bring broadcast-level advertising to consumers who are keen to channel hop, Dvorak says there's nothing to stop people skipping through ads. He also says that advertisers will only be charged if adverts are watched, though we can't see many advertisers standing for the ability for their ads to be fast-forwarded through.
FULL EPG: Aprico works like any other EPG, except that it will take note of everything you watch - or everything you skip through
Aprico says that content providers can win too, by providing a more personalised and differentiated service for consumers. Those who implement the technology inside set-top boxes (for example) will also be able to introduce extra interactive content depending on their personal preference.
As the system is software based at the consumer end, device manufacturers and broadcasters will be able to use existing kit should they wish.
The personalised TV service will provide even more options for advertising in the future. Instead of just advertising spots and banners, Watchmi allows them to run personalised videos and short films that are tailored to the user's channel profile, which will allow them to reach their target groups in an optimal manner.