Feb 032011


The Media Check-In Game Just Changed.

The problem was that no one wanted to type in the bar they were at,” Adam Cahan told us when we met with him last week to see his latest venture, IntoNow. He wasn’t talking about his startup. Instead, he was talking about Dodgeball, the location-based service that came well before Foursquare. That is, he was describing why Foursquare took off while Dodgeball didn’t, even though they had the same basic concept. GPS being built-in to smartphones changed everything, he said. “Now our industry is in the same place. We’re the GPS layer.”

What industry is that? So so-called media check-in space. (Though don’t use the word “check-in” around Cahan, he hates it.) More specifically, IntoNow is trying to own the tv engagement app space. And while competitors like GetGlue, Miso, TunerFish and others all beat IntoNow to market, they have a secret weapon: it’s called SoundPrint.

Just like GPS with location services, SoundPrint, a new technology created by IntoNow, allows you to automatically “check-in” to watching a show simply by hitting a button in the IntoNow app. How? It reads the sound waves and patterns of each television show (and a growing collection of movies as well) and matches it with a database they keep. Yep, it’s a lot like Soundhound or Shazam, but for video content.

And it’s amazing how well it works.

When I first got a demo from Cahan and co-founders Didier Hilhorst and Rob Johnson, I was amazed to the point where I was dumbfounded. You see, the first thing they demoed the app on was a live broadcast of a CNN show featuring Hillary Clinton talking. Within seconds, IntoNow picked up the exact name of the show. I wasn’t sure how this was possible since the same Clinton sound clip could be playing on a number of different shows. But there are a few keys to how SoundPrint works (most of which the team won’t go into since it’s their patented technology) — one key is to scan all live channels and bring in their audio footprint in realtime.

IntoNow knew the CNN show I was watching because their backend was also watching it. It was just a matter of lining up the audio. Which again, it did, in seconds.

But IntoNow works for much more than live TV. Their content catalog currently includes some 140 million minutes of broadcast TV. That’s roughly 266 years worth of video. And it’s growing more with each passing second. They’re monitoring 130 broadcast channels in realtime, 24 hours a day — all of which is stored and saved.

Read more . . .

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