Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

Google Breathes New Intelligence into its TV

The Knowledge Graph previously used for Web search allows Google’s TV software to take spoken commands

  • November 14, 2012

When Google unveiled a system to lets its software understand the meaning and relationships between people, places, things and other concepts the company engineers told me that it would be used to improve more than just search results (see “Google’s New Brain Could Have a Big Impact”). Not long after, the Knowledge Graph surfaced again as a key part of Google Now, the company’s answer to Siri (see “Google’s Answer to Siri Thinks Ahead”). Now the Knowledge Graph is being used to make Google’s system for TV set-top boxes smarter, according to GigaOm.

Google announced an upgrade to Google TV today that allows it to take spoken commands, and Google TV product lead Rishi Chandra tells GigOm the Knowledge Graph is making it possible. Users can now simply say “CNN” to switch the channel, or call out the name of a show to be shown all ways it can be watched either live or via Internet streaming. Questions such as “how to tie a bowtie” might return relevant YouTube videos or web search results, depending on which is the better match.

The Knowledge Graph is likely needed to allow Google TV to figure out what kind of entity a person just mentioned in their spoken request, for example whether it’s a TV show, channel or website.

Given the number of uses that Google’s Knowledge Graph has found, it may not be too long before other companies begin to emulate the approach. Some of the technology behind Apple’s Siri can similarly be used to understand something of the meaning of the terms people use. Perhaps it won’t be too long before Siri or similar technology surfaces in Apple’s TV device or other products beyond the iPhone.

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