Every modern TV has an EPG (electronic programme guide); now meet IPGs - interactive programme guides designed to allow you to discover more about the movies and television shows you can watch on a smart TV.
Launching here at IFA is eyeQ from Gracenote – the company best known for its CD track recognition database, but now delivering a range of music and video technologies.
Philips will be the first TV company to integrate a Gracenote eyeQ IPG into its 2011 Smart TV range (of which more in a later news story) by adding a 'home screen' - where viewers can easily find and explore content from both broadcast and on-demand/streaming services.
The eyeQ IPG – also available as a software upgrade to earlier Philips smart TVs – offers an integrated programme guide across all these different entertainment sources.
There's also a Tivo-style smart recommendations function, which learns what you like to watch and suggests shows and movies you may like. There's a simplified search function too, which allows you to browse all the available entertainment.
Gracenote has also built an IMDB-style database of TV and movie information, which allows you to access background information about programmes from within the IPG, plus find something to watch based on a wide range of criteria – from favourite actors to preferred content.
Stephen White, President of Gracenote, says the eyeQ database is both richer and more unified than IMDB. "We've got a very coherent structure for our information. If a viewer wants to watch something with, say, high-speed car chases or big explosions, we can find content based on those descriptions - IMDB might have five different ways for explaining the same thing."
Of course the advantage of accessing IMDB for such information, rather than using an on-screen TV guide, is that you can keep watching while you browse for the name of that actor you can't quite place.
iPad/Android tablet app to come
But Gracenote has an answer for this, too – in the form of a forthcoming iPad/Android tablet app that will allow you to browse the IPG without interrupting the entertainment on the big screen.
Loewe is demonstrating that app here at IFA – working via a wi-fi hook-up to its smart TVs, which will also feature a programme selection and filtering system.
Other TV-based Gracenote innovations include MusicID, a Shazam-style system that allows viewers to identify songs playing in any show, movie or advert.
Gracenote expects its eyeQ technology to be adopted by further TV manufacturers; one would expect Sony to be interested, seeing as Gracenote is a subsidiary company of the Japanese CE giant.
We'll bring you more on those Philips and Loewe sets as the IFA event progresses, and will be reviewing eyeQ in action as soon as the software updates and apps become available.