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SK Broadband adds artificial intelligence to its set-top box

Jan 26,2018
Internet service provider SK Broadband has added artificial intelligence to its set-top box to allow users to give more complex requests when searching for something to watch.

The service, named “B tv x Nugu,” was demonstrated at the company’s headquarters in central Seoul on Thursday. B tv is SK Broadband’s IPTV service and Nugu is SK Telecom’s artificial intelligence assistant.

Since Dec. 2016 the Nugu speaker has been able to receive simple verbal commands to control the television, including selecting a specific channel or movie to play. The new version has been upgraded in terms of the complexity of the orders it can understand to help users scan through the huge number of TV programs and movies offered.

Whereas in the past the user had to give exact details, the new set-top box can respond to more vague requests like “Show me American action movies made in the 2000s and released in UHD resolution.”

This is possible because Nugu’s artificial intelligence technology understands eight compound conditions that compose a sentence including genre, date of release, production, country it was made in and proper nouns like celebrities. The device also responds to follow-up requests to narrow down the selection. Starting from June, users can directly speak to the remote control to make more sophisticated commands, instead of shouting at the box.

The upgraded function is rooted in a changing consumption pattern of television. Before the advent of IPTV, the television screen was the only way to interact with and choose channels, and content was limited to what was on at the time.

More people are now spending time watching videos and movies offered by IPTV services. In fact, rivals KT and LG U+ already include artificial intelligence in their IPTV set-top boxes.

“Over half of B tv subscribers watch VOD and 30 percent pay money for the content. That proportion is rising,” said Youn Seog-am, head of SK Broadband’s media business division.

“Consumers nowadays no longer sit still on their couch fed with content provided on TV,” he added. “They are more active and enthusiastic in looking for content they want to enjoy and the traditional remote control isn’t evolving in line with this pattern change.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]