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Emerging from stealth mode and announcing relationships with manufacturers including LG, Samsung, Vizio, Insignia, Sanyo and Western Digital - Flingo, a leading publisher of applications for the Smart or Connected TV, recently launched the first suite of application publishing products to seamlessly integrate the Web with the TV experience. And Flingo has made available a public API (application programming interface), so developers can build mobile and Web apps that use the television's inside knowledge. The TV will also display pop-ups on-screen, offering further Web-retrieved information about a show, or links to apps on the set itself.
This is in addition to Fling, the company’s Open Source project that lets people “fling” videos and music from the Web to a queue of programming on their television screen which allows viewers drag a bookmarklet to the browser bookmarks bar, and then browse a Flingo-supported website such as YouTube or Vimeo from a laptop or tablet. The website automatically searches for and discovers the viewer’s smart TV. People currently fling thousands of videos and music from the Web to their big screen TV every day. Viewers simply drag a bookmarklet to the browser bookmarks bar, and then browse a Flingo-supported website such as YouTube or Vimeo from a laptop or tablet. The website searches for and discovers the viewer's smart TV. Viewers can then click the bookmark to fling the video to the TV or media device. To see a demo of Fling, go to: http://www.flingo.org/.
Flingo's application publishing suite enables an ecosystem where media companies, artists and brand advertisers converge on consumer hardware platforms to give viewers a more engaging and personal TV experience. Viewers enjoy more content on TV than ever before in a highly personalized, interactive experience. Additionally, they can share their favorite moments across popular social networks.
TV manufacturers use Flingo to improve the value proposition of their smart TVs by offering applications that bring streaming video and introduce interactivity on top of live TV. Content providers, studios and musicians can now engage their audience directly on the TV. Flingo partners share in the proceeds from advertising on the Flingo publishing platform.
"TV is essentially the last frontier. Until now, the Web hasn't penetrated the TV viewing experience," said Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Flingo. "Flingo's goal is to build that bridge between Web and TV so that the TV experience is a better reflection of what the viewer cares about. We have taken careful steps to forge an ecosystem where businesses and viewers alike can participate and benefit from the tremendous potential of Internet-connected television."
In a recent writeup in MIT's Technology Review, the writer notes Flingo as being the backbone of a new type of Internet-connected television, due out before the end of the year, which has built-in software and hardware that send data about what is on-screen to an Internet server that can identify the content. Web pages being viewed using the same Internet connection as the TV set can then tap into that information and the system will be able to identify any content onscreen, whatever the source, whether live TV, DVDs or movie files playing from a computer.
"Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now," says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. "For example, you could go to Google or IMDB and the page would already know what's on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it." Social sites such as Facebook or Twitter can use the service to connect viewers to a TV show's official page or stream. When a user flips channels, or a show ends, the Webpage being viewed knows about it and can instantly update to the new viewing.
All of this occurs with the permission of the television's owner, says Harrison. The first time the TV is switched on, it asks users if they would like to opt in to the data-sharing service. If they say yes, it prompts them to accept a terms-of-service agreement. Individual sites and apps must ask for, and be granted, permission to access the data the TV makes available.
Ashwin Navin, Flingo's CEO and other cofounder, says he expects people to opt in because the service offers an automatic way to do what people are already doing manually. "People are doing the work to search for information to go with their viewing," he says. "We'll have all that information right there."
The data generated by a television with Sync Apps is also valuable to advertisers. Already, online ads can be targeted based on the content of a Web page and the viewer's browsing history. Navin says that his company will enable sites to match ads to a person's TV-viewing history too, at least on sites that have received permission to use the television's data.
Already the largest publisher of smart TV apps, Flingo is available on 5.7 million screens in 117 countries, and most smart TVs sold today are already enabled with Flingo and have strong relationships with television companies including CBS, MTV, and Fox, after spending several years helping them develop apps for Internet-connected televisions.