Big Brother Is Watching You (Twice a second)

Anyone heard of ACR? Automatic Content Recognition may well be fitted in to your SmartTV already, and almost certainly will be in your next one.

Every half a second your TV takes a “screen grab” of whatever you’re watching and sends it to a master database which is also monitoring every terrestrial and OTT channel. So it can then match the screen-grab with its database to identify what live channel you’re watching. It can even recognise if it’s something that has been recorded on your DDR, or if you’re watching something On Demand from Netflix or Amazon which the database has already reviewed and processed.

This extraordinary technology allows broadcasters and commissioners access to  accurate viewing figures, and couldn’t be more removed from the old-school method of a little box on top of a tiny proportion of the nation’s TVs.  It’s amazing, and a little bit terrifying.

I learnt this at a TVConnect seminar, and whilst the show itself didn’t offer any great benefit for me or my business, every day is a school day, and the seminar I attended was stimulating and well produced. Good work guys.

Still pondering the Big Brother-esque implications of my new-found knowledge, it occurred to me that if the major film studios collaborated and shared short sections of their latest blockbusters, it might be possible to identify individual users viewing pirated content. The ISPs are unwilling (or unable) to identify pirated content on streaming devices such as Kodi, but ACR is built in to the screen, so it bypasses the need for the ISP to police the content. Sounds like a great way of identifying illegal activity, even if it does sound like something Winston Smith might have come up against.