BBC working with Microsoft to add AI to iPlayer services

Future versions of iPlayer could use artificial intelligence to allow you to sign in to just using your voice, says the Corporation

Posted 9 August 2017 by Gary Flood

The BBC has been quietly working with Microsoft on a project to add voice recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) to iPlayer video service that would let viewers have Alexa-style voice power over what they want to see next.

But in a unique twist to Amazon’s service, the idea is to add in a level of security, too, where unique voiceprints could be stored and used to check the right licence fee payer was logging in.

“Our internal prototype also gives a user the option to select what they want to watch by talking to their device,” wrote the BBC’s head of digital partnerships Cyrus Saihan in a blog post this week.

If the functionality does get added, it would offer more than services like Google Home, said Saihan, such as identifying which family members are in the room and suggesting shows and personalised content:

“If we look further into the future, when artificial intelligence and machine learning have advanced sufficiently, you could end up in a conversation with your TV about what’s available to watch now, whether you like the sound of it or not, whether there’s something coming up that you’re interested in, and what you like to watch when you’re in a certain mood,” he writes.

“All the time, your TV service would be learning about your preferences and getting smarter about what to suggest and when.”

The work, though, is still in very early stages, with only a proof of concept having been worked up so far – and there is no scheduled launch date, either.

If you want to get caught up with the kind of drivers that led to the BBC’s decision, make sure you are signed up for your place at a special one-day event, which is FREE for public sector professionals – go here to find out more.


That event will focus on the impact of AI on the delivery of public services and its wider impact on the British economy post-Brexit – the key themes of the upcoming (September 15) Think AI for Public Sector conference in London.