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BBC, Microsoft developing voice recognition and AI capabilities for iPlayer


The BBC has been working with Microsoft to develop a proof of concept, artificial intelligence-based media player that allows viewers to navigate their television programming using their voice, according to a report by Microsoft News.

The experimental version of BBC’s iPlayer allows users to watch television shows and listen to the radio via the internet.

In the BBC’s test, viewers were able to log into their BBC account by activating iPlayer and by simply stating their name and a phrase, out loud.

During this process, the AI technology compares the tone, modulation and pitch of the user’s voice to a sample the person has previously uploaded to the service.

If a match is found, the viewer is successfully logged into the account without having to type in a username and password.

Viewers are then able to choose what show they want to watch by using voice commands. For example, a user can say “BBC, show me something with action” to be given a selection of action program.

The system would allow viewers see all of the same curated programs and personalized recommendations that they typically would.

Cyrus Saihan, BBC’s head of digital partnerships, distribution and business development, said people are warming up to voice-activated technology as it is being increasingly integrated mobile phones and home hubs.

“The ability of humans to communicate with each other by talking is one of our species’ most unique traits,” Saihan wrote in a blog post. “As the technology around us continues to evolve, it is interesting to consider how we might soon be talking naturally with the range of digital devices that have become such an important part of everyday life for many.

“With voice controlled interfaces starting to gain popularity, there is a good chance that in some situations, speaking to a computer will be the main way that we interact with many of our digital devices.”

As technology improves, voice control and AI could provide people with greater control over their television-watching patterns as well as personalized options for a more seamless experience, Saihan said.

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