Yahoo has acquired a Palo Alto startup called IntoNow whose technology is designed to help television viewers discover programs and discuss them interactively with their friends.
IntoNow's application, launched in January of this year and available currently for the iPhone, detects the sound of TV programs coming from TV sets or computers and attempts to identify the program and specific episode that's playing.
IntoNow has indexed more than five years of U.S. television programs in its database. If it identifies a match, it lets users share the name of the TV program they're watching and related information with their friends. This can be done via the IntoNow application or other social media services like Facebook and Twitter. Viewers can also exchange comments about the show.
Yahoo foresees IntoNow's technology boosting a variety of its services and applications, including its search engine, its video content, its mobile sites and its Connected TV platform, the company said. Versions of IntoNow for Android devices and for the iPad are in the works.
It's not surprising for Yahoo to be investing in technology that promotes viewership of professional video content among its hundreds of millions of users. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said during the company's earnings conference call last week that video advertising is the company's fastest-growing advertising segment.
She also said that Yahoo has experienced significant growth in views of professional video content, both original and licensed, by its users, and that video is a key element in Yahoo's user engagement strategy. Yahoo is specifically interested in professionally produced video, and much less so in amateur, user-generated video, Bartz said.