Broadcast television is a medium aimed at the common interests of a viewing audience. The level of depth and breadth associated with any topic is the same for all viewers. In a very real sense, the nature of the medium is such that all viewers get the same picture.
Imagine instead, that a viewer has access to a system that is actually watching television with him, in tandem, noting the kind of show, the content of the show, and the details of what is being discussed. If this system was also capable of translating its understanding of the show into a set of information queries, it would be possible for a viewer to say "tell me more" and have that information automatically delivered to him. The viewer wouldn't have to know where the information resides, how to search for it, or even how to build a query. He would merely push a button and the information comes to him.
Beyond Broadcast is this system. It bridges the gap between the online world of information and television content -- bringing users relevant, on-point information effortlessly. Linked to a set top box, it uses channel selection and closed captioning text as the context and content of search. As viewers express their interest in a show (by simply pressing a button on a remote) the system immediately creates an extensive information collection based on that interest. With no effort, viewers are given access to an entire range of information related to the show they are currently watching. Information that would be nearly impossible for them to find on their own is available immediately and automatically.
For users, the system provides immediate and effortless access to both information and other media associated with what they are watching. For service providers, it creates a new and focused advertising channel as well as a bridge that draws users from the offline world of television to the online world of the web and web services.
Beyond Broadcast is one of a set of systems developed at the InfoLab designed to make use of the context and content of a user's activities to provide information and service. Like many of these systems, it uses elements of the user's activity and focus to provide "frictionless" access to information. Our goal is to bring this technology to the level at which it can become a viable product and then move it into common usage.