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What your TV knows that you don’t

IntoNowYou’re watching a favorite weekday cable tv show at home and decide to see which of your friends might be tuned in as well. So you get out your phone and open Yahoo!’s app “IntoNow” and then, almost by magic, the phone knows which show you’re watching. You don’t have to push any buttons or sync your phone to your television, it all happens automatically once you open up the app. Then you’re shown who else is watching exactly what you’re watching and you can join in a conversation around the show right then and there. But how does it work? How can your phone know exactly what you’re watching on TV automatically? It’s something IntoNow calls “SoundPrint” and it’s a technology that’s been hiding in your favorite shows for years now. It works like this: every show you watch on television is “imprinted” with a specific, low-level, sound frequency that is unique to that specific show. The sound plays through-out shows and can be used by networks to sync advertisements and by research firms to automatically track which shows people are watching. Confused yet? That’s why IntoNow has been designed so simply: the app picks up the unique sound ID of whatever you’re watching on television and then scans through a database of more than 266 years of television shows to find a match. SoundPrintWhen your phone starts searching for the sound imprint on whatever it is you’re watching, it can find a match for the unique sound print well within 12 seconds (the average time for finding a sound ID match is about 4 seconds). Which is impressive, when you consider everything that’s happening simply by the touch of a button. The technology has been around for some time now, and it’s been used by research firms like Nielsen for national research studies, but as viewers start leaning into more social interactions with our entertainment, the need for incorporating this type of “sound recognition” is growing. Down the road you might be able to not only automatically connect with friends or people around the world who are watching what you are, but you’ll also be able to get show recommendations, instantly determine whether a show is a rerun or not, and so much more. So now you know: your shows are hiding away a lot more information than simply what you see or hear.

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