Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'

If TradeHarbor Inc. ends up making its mark in cable, customers may find themselves literally screaming for TV Everywhere services or video services.

The company hopes to bring cable a new authentication layer that uses voices as sign-on signatures, complementing other more traditional methods such as hand-written signatures and typed passwords.

The most obvious application for this is for customer care, which requires integration with older billing and customer care systems.

The idea: Customers create their secure voice print by uttering four short phrases (e.g. their phone number, the last four digits of their Social Security number, the name of their pet python). Then, they can authenticate themselves on an MSO's interactive voice response (IVR) system by uttering just two of those phrases, bypassing a more manual process that's typically handled by a live customer service rep. Here's a demo.

TradeHarbor believes its cloud-based Voice Signature Service (VSS) will save MSOs money by shaving the amount of interaction subscribers have with live operators, thus opening the door to opt-in, self-service options for upgrades and other service changes that require trusted transactions.

It might save time, too. TradeHarbor CEO Paul Heirendt says the verbal sign-in takes all of nine seconds, compared with 45 seconds to two minutes when the procedure involves a live operator.

Beyond customer care, TradeHarbor hopes MSOs will find value in using its technology as an extra layer of security for TV Everywhere services and the delivery of other high-value content to iPads, smartphones, and other mobile devices that sport microphones. It's created an API for the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS operating systems.

TradeHarbor, which has former Charter Communications Inc. chairman Barry Babcock on its board, is trying to ease its entry to cable with a Quick Start program that lets MSOs set up VSS trials for free, so they can gauge consumer interest and get a grip on what kind of returns they can expect to get out of the technology. (See TradeHarbor Pitches Voice Authentication to Cable.)

It's also established an integration partnership with billing and customer care giant Convergys Corp. (NYSE: CVG), which counts MSO customers such as Kabel Deutschland GmbH , Suddenlink Communications , Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , and Charter.

Heirendt says his company is in discussions with six of Convergys's US MSO customers, but Suddenlink's the only one that he can mention; they hooked up at the recent CableLabs Summer Conference in Keystone, Colo., to demo how VSS could be used with customer care apps. He adds that TradeHarbor is also working with CableLabs as the R&D house develops TV Everywhere authentication projects. (See CableLabs Tuning Up TV Everywhere Specs .)

In addition to cable, TradeHarbor's tapping major studios to support its technology. Brad Hunt, the former CTO of the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), is on board as an adviser.

Founded in 1999, TradeHarbor is coming after cable following its initial work in the financial services, insurance, and healthcare industries. Nuance Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NUAN), which offers voice recognition software for IVRs, is among its primary competitors.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:09 PM
re: Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'

Am I the only one who feels like a total self-conscious moron when using voice recognition systems?  Doubly so if I have to repeat something because the system didn't catch it.

That might be this company's biggest barrier to entry: That people find out about this and say "Oh god, it's gonna suck to have to do that."

paulheirendt 12/5/2012 | 4:21:59 PM
re: Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'

Craig, the Voice Signature Service asks the user to repeat specific phrases ( like "Black Coffee", "My Hero", etc), so the usability issues that can result in voice recognition applications is avoided. 

The Consumer acceptance of this friendly, easy to use, nothing to remember approach to strong authentication has been extremely high.

Carl Davies 12/5/2012 | 4:21:52 PM
re: Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'

The challenge that many MSO’s face is the provision of true quad-play convergent services, only then can an MSO really harness TV Anywhere by rating and discounting through sophisticated convergent bundles in real-time for content across any device, any where and at any time.   


Convergys believes that multi-access and multi-device authentication is key to delivering the TV Anywhere strategies, this is backed up through our many Client discussions.  One such authentication is of voice as discussed in this report.  In 2009 Frost & Sullivan survey revealed that 69 percent of respondents plan to include speech recognition interfaces in their new applications over the next 12 to 18 months. Few technologies have transformed customer self-service and traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems as much as speech.


By utilizing speech in self-service applications, you can:

<div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Simplify user choices by delivering an intuitive natural language interface</div>
<div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Allow users to execute transactions quickly and easily</div>
<div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Reduce operational costs by reducing transfer rates through single call resolution</div>
<div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Extend your corporate brand with customized personas</div>
<div class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Cut through menu choices to get right to a transaction</div>

Convergys is driven by its vision of delivering convenience, choice and personalization real-time in communications, information and transactions for everyone, at every touchpoint across video, voice, data and content services.&nbsp;

davelewis 12/5/2012 | 4:21:49 PM
re: Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'

This technology is available today and sounds like a very practical solution for the MSOs. I like the idea of easy, convenient security for TV Everywhere that also protects my privacy. I want my provider to enroll me today!

If the MSO's wait to implement new technology like the Voice Signature Service they will end up like the music business and the land-line telephone business - culturally irrelevant and wondering what happened to their business model.

GenX, GenY, and Millennials all have abandoned land-line telephones for wireless, CDs for iTunes, and DVDs and Blockbuster for NetFlix and Hulu.

Consumers have many choices in accessing media content and more are being added to the landscape on a daily basis - people vote with their wallets.

Also, as I understand it the Voice Signature Service is a product available from Convergys.

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