TvTak knows what you’re watching from a photo of your TV screen

TvTak knows what you’re watching from a photo of your TV screen

The next great frontier for social media is TV. While apps like Get Glue and Miso have introduced viewers to the idea of ‘checking in’ to their favourite shows, TvTak wants to make the process quicker, easier and more useful for viewers, broadcasters and advertisers alike.

Presenting today at the Techonomy conference in Tel Aviv, TvTak is an iPhone app that allows you take a picture of your TV screen. Within one second, it will work out exactly the show or ad that you are watching. From there, users will be able to share details of the show they’re viewing via Twitter or Facebook, with a comment attached.

Further down the line, TvTak aims to allow broadcasters and advertisers to ‘extend their brands’ via the app by providing fast access to further information online. So, you could be watching an ad for a new snack; taking a shot of the screen with TVtak could then take you to a voucher entitling you to a free sample.

TvTak isn’t alone in attempting to connect TV with the online world by detecting what you’re watching. We recently covered IntoNow, which uses a sample of audio to determine what show is currently on. However, TvTak CEO and co-founder David Amselem points out that IntoNow takes much longer to work as it requires 5-12 seconds of audio to work, compared to his solution’s 1 second visual approach.

The service works using continual, server-side monitoring of the output of multiple TV stations. When a user takes a picture of their TV screen with the TvTak app, it is compared with what the servers are ‘watching’. When a match is found, the details are fed back to the user’s phone. Because it takes this monitoring approach, it’s quicker than ‘video search’ technologies that need to query huge databases to find a match. However, it does mean that roll-out of the service can only take place on a territory-by-territory basis.

In addition to charging broadcasters and advertisers to use the TvTak, an SDK will be made available, licensing the platform to third parties for a fee.

Based out in the Israeli desert (“You can see camels and Bedouins from our windows,” says Amselem), TvTak plans to launch in its home country first, with Europe and the US next in the startup’s sights.

Read next: My Dot-Com Boom and Bust Story