• Voice to transform UX say experts
  • 27% of respondents have implemented a customised voice UI
  • TiVo: Voice “exceeded all predictions”

Voice has unlocked opportunities for broadcasters and platform operators to deliver customised experiences and next-generation TV experiences.

The IBC365 webinar Talking to the TV: Transforming the viewing experience with voice control explored the value of voice control for content discovery, the biometrics of personalisation and the increase in engagement and censorship.

Speakers from TiVo, Liberty Global and Tele2 discussed the importance of delivering compelling user experiences (UX) and the best strategies for broadcasters and platform operators to develop voice interfaces and maintain control of experiences.

New horizons
Horizon 4 is Liberty Global’s newly launched TV platform in Belgium by Telenet headed up by Liberty Global senior manager personalisation and discovery Ashley Grossman.

Liberty Global is a conglomeration of multiple cable brands in over 45 million homes and 21.2 million customers.

Grossman explained its mission with the technology was to take some of the legacy platforms that spanned multiple countries and territories and to try and build a new platform, next-generation TV platform at scale, which was completed predominately in house.

Grossman explained the modern ecosystem where the user experience (UX) is at the forefront of delivery with “one box, one UI and one platform.”

Voice was an integral consideration in its set top box developments. Grossman said: “Part of the Horizon ecosystem is what we call the 360 area which is taking this UI and taking this content and making it available on a number of other platforms.”

Distributed across various set top boxes, Android TV and Apple TV.

“A big part of this whole mission is to incorporate voice,” which Grossman explained wasn’t an automatic decision weighing up the consumer and market readiness.

The challenges, Grossman outlined, included integrating voice across multiple languages and what it was going to do to the user.

Switzerland was the first launch market with German, French, Italian and English languages necessary for launch.

He said: “The fundamentals of voice control begin with decent quality of audio capture.”

There was some consideration given to a handsfree system, location of the microphone and the remote design.

Grossman said: “We focussed on command and control as well as search.

“Channel tuning, opening applications, navigating through the menus, controlling the playback and search and discover,” were the primary points of focus for Liberty to deliver a good UX.

There are various trade-offs with voice, such as how conversational is search going to be versus fulfilling content search for customers?

Unchartered territory
“Voice is very much a journey of discovering for the customers and discovering how the service works and we are also discovering how consumers interact with it.”

Grossman explained voice initially perceived as a nice-to-have and gimmick is now integral to customers usage and “exceeded all expectations.”

He added that 40% of customers surveyed said they would use voice; Grossman didn’t reveal the numbers but assured the audience it higher than two thirds of customers.

Grossman expects voice to become the preferred methods of content search with some using voice to tune channels.

Some 27% of the webinar listeners have already implemented a customised voice control interface, while 33% have developed skills on commercial platforms like Alexa and Google Home.

Only 13% of respondents are in the early stages of voice control research and 27% cited it was too early to say.

Tele2 lead product creative Morvarid Kashanipour joined the discussion and explained the importance of designing a product with a user-centric focus, fast time to market and cost efficient.

She said: “Designing the products is important to always consider different dimensions.”

One dimension is the user needs, and another is the business requirements and technological capabilities.

The main priority Kashanipour explains is content discovery for audiences, she said: “Users don’t really care where that content comes from, they just want to consume it and they want a reliable product which is easy to use anytime and anywhere.”

Evolve traditional TV experiences
The focus shifted for Tele2 during the design process, where simplicity was the focus rather than traditional TV viewing habits.

Kashanipour said: “We really considered the power of voice, when it works well and how you can interact with it.”

During the launch process Kashanipour explained it was important to consider the channel line-up, the images to engage the user as well as enabling voice to enhance interactions.

She added: “Voice adds another dimension; it is easy to navigate and is the key to searching for content.”

Kashanipour expects that voice will become a “new habit,” pointing to Google Assistant’s capability to define and set new actions, enabling a great personalisation of experiences.

Kashanipour leads design for Tv Hub, Com Hem Play and Boxer Play products at Com Hem/Tele2.

She has received numerous awards, among them Red Dot Award 2018 for Tv Hub Android TV set-top box and remote control design, CSI awards 2018 for The Best User Experience and two Connies Awards 2019 in the category of The Best User Experience and International Grand Prix.

Finding nirvana
Proving the underlying voice control technology to many operators is TiVo whose mission is personalised content discovery.

The usage of voice across international markets has exceeded all predictions explained TiVo senior director customer solutions Patrick Byrden.

Byrden is focussed on helping customers implement voice, analytics and recommendation-led entertainment discovery solutions that enable consumers to find and enjoy the entertainment content they love.

He said: “People are starting to use [voice] as a service and they’re starting faster than ever before.”

The average search per month is 35 per household which has a “great” impact and different levels of engagement with content Byrden explained.

Command and control, robust features to drive user interest and personalised engagement are the key to making voice search successful.

Byrden said: “Enabling the customer to interact with the UI and solution.”

He said the “nirvana use case” is a customer using the voice search function to get a personalised return on something they will want to watch from linear, OTT or video on-demand.

Byrden said: “People who use voice, not only do they search more but they also view content more than those who do not use voice.”