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Cable Show 2012: Rovi Weaving Siri-Like Voice Controls Into TV Guide

Rovi is teaming up with Nuance Communication to let cable TV subscribers tell their TV what they want to watch, using the same underlying technology that powers the iPhone 4S's Siri app.

Nuance has licensed Rovi's entertainment data to give cable operators and consumer-electronics manufacturers the ability to access Rovi-indexed content for TV shows, movies and cast and crew details, just by speaking. In addition, the two companies are developing an application that combines Dragon TV -- Nuance's voice- and language-understanding platform for set-top boxes and connected-TV devices -- with Rovi's guide technology.

Rovi and Nuance did not say when the joint solutions would be available.

As a result of the collaboration, TV viewers will be able to change the channel with voice commands, as well as browse, bookmark and search for content on both live and VOD TV programming by speaking, according to the companies.

For example, the Rovi-Nuance solution would let someone say, "Find comedies with Adam Sandler"; or even answer such questions as "Who plays Don Draper on Mad Men?" (Answer: Jon Hamm.)

"Consumers want easy to use and simple ways for discovering entertainment that don't require a remote control with as many keys as a keyboard. Voice brings this capability," said Corey Ferengul, Rovi executive vice president of product management and strategy. "Our relationship with Nuance further expands our ability to provide our customers -- service provider and consumer-electronics manufacturers -- with an advanced media guide that redefines consumers' discovery and TV viewing experience."

Siri, the virtual personal assistant app on Apple's iPhone 4S, uses Nuance's speech-recognition engine. By integrating Rovi's data with the Dragon TV platform, "people will ultimately be able to lean back and speak to instantly find and discover the shows and content they want," said Michael Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile.

Also Monday, Rovi is expected to announce search enhancements to its i-Guide and Passport IPG for MSOs, and plans to demo the TotalGuide solution on Pace's next-generation video gateways for home-content sharing featuring multiroom DVR and IP connectivity.

For its IPG products, the vendor is introducing a redesigned mini-guide that provides an expanded TV listings view by time and channel as well as Rovi's Six Degrees discovery solution to view cast and crew and recommendations for similar content. The mini-guide and TV listings grid can be deployed on in-market set-top boxes that currently use Rovi i-Guide technology.

In addition, Rovi has announced that the mini-guide and other new capabilities will be launched alongside the TotalGuide deployment on Pace's "Dallas" set-top boxes, to be available for trials with cable service providers later this year. Rovi also will demonstrate pre-porting of TotalGuide to Pace's XG1 Multi-Tuner Video Gateway, which will allow the set-top to receive IP-based video and other content.

Pace and Rovi announced their partnership in December 2011 to roll out a multi-tuner hybrid IP solution for service providers.

Other demos Rovi has prepped for the Cable Show include: the Rovi DTA Guide, a lightweight IPG for digital transport adapters (DTAs) that provides TV listings, parental controls and language support for English and Spanish; and streaming of live TV to Rovi's TotalGuide xD for iPad app in partnership with Azuki Systems.