Who hasn’t spent dead hours on the internet because one story leads to another? The interactive experience of the Internet has no limits, while television, for many years it has been with us and many technological changes it has undergone, has not yet reached its level because “it is not bi-directional”. “With television we have become passive consumers of the entertainment they provide us, but we cannot go further,” explains Jose Luis Florez, CEO and founder of the Asturian company Touchvie.
The company, winner of the Silicon Valley TiE50 award for the best technology startup in the artificial intelligence category, has created an application that eliminates this lack of interaction between consumers and television. Users who download it to their mobile or tablet (freely available for Android and iOS) will be able to discover in real time information on the characters, settings, costumes, restaurants, accessories, etc. of the movie or series they are watching.
And this immediacy is the really differentiating point of Touchvie, since the information appears automatically when the app detects when you are in the movie. The user can access this data at the moment or read it later, as additional information. “We have the technological capacity to do something that nobody else is doing right now in the world,” says Florez.
Currently, there are companies that provide additional information, but not at the Touchvie level. This is the case of IMBD, where we can find data from the films and the actors, but in a very static way and, of course, not simultaneously with the viewing. Amazon also has a service in the United States that gives information simultaneously, but only from the actors. “There are companies that specialize in one field, such as fashion or character looks, but that information is much more limited than what we offer,” says the CEO of Touchvie.
On television channels
The objective of Touchvie, in addition to growing in the number of users who can access its content, is to get to work also in television programs, and not only in series and movies.
“It is a medium-term plan motivated by the market’s own demand,” says the founder, who assures that they have already signed an agreement with “one of the main television networks in Spain” to implement Touchvie in four of its programs as an experience. pilot.
The app was released in November 2015, and today it already has more than 100,000 downloads in Spain, but the expectations are for “millions of users next year” thanks to alliances with television networks, aggregators and television manufacturers. and decoders. Its objective is that you can see the additional information directly on television using the remote control to choose which aspect we want to know more about.
Although they already have 1,500 titles with interactive content, the idea of the company is to end the year with more than 3,000 and in 2017 to have about 5,000. “They are similar figures to those handled by Netflix in the US,” says Florez. These are the most popular movies, recent and classic of the cinema. In the case of the series, the most popular such as ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘House of Cards’, ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘True Detective’ are already in the Touchvie catalog.
How does it work?
The process for a user is to download the app and interact with the content in different ways. “If you put on a DVD, the app detects when you are in the movie and starts sending you information. If you are watching a movie on television, we have servers that record it and identify the image,” explains Florez. The user only has to click on the ‘Receive information’ button to start reading related data while viewing the film.
But how does the app get all that information? “Through systems that record the image. For example, they search the internet for mentions of objects that appear in the series, decode that information, clean it and we give it context.” That part is mainly dealt with by the Asturias team, in whose office are Humanities professionals, such as arts, geography, fashion, design, history … “so that the content we contribute to the algorithm is of higher quality”. On the other hand, they have the Madrid office, where employees are specialized in data and artificial intelligence. They also have offices in Munich and New York. In total, there are 65 employees worldwide.
After this, the question that arises is: how is it possible to grow so much in less than a year? “Working hard and with sufficient financing,” answers Florez. The company has maintained its own financing until now, “from close people and the founders”, but internationalization makes the process accelerate and more resources are needed.
TiE50 Silicon Valley
Touchvie has been the winner of the best startup of the year award in the artificial intelligence category at the Silicon Valley TiE50 Awards, a “very important” recognition because it is “the industry itself that recognizes that you have a unique project” says the CEO proudly. Likewise, the award has a great impact at the media level, with the consequent publicity that this generates for the company and greater ease when seeking external financing.
The process to become winners was complex. Touchvie appeared in the American publication ‘Bloomberg’, which gave them a lot of repercussion in the country, which is why the organizers of TiEcom called them to apply. “They receive more than 2,000 applications from all over the world and select the 100 finalists. In that great sieve, we were the only Europeans who survived,” says Florez. The jury then selects 50 startups “that stand out for something.” In his case, they were awarded for their innovative project worldwide in terms of artificial intelligence.