Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere'
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