Caavo uses computer vision to unify control of streaming boxes


— 3:30 PM on February 15, 2017

Ask anyone with a set-top box or smart TV about the worst part of the user experience, and chances are the divided nature of the content will be high on the list. Content purchased through iTunes will only work on Apple's set-top box, Amazon Video doesn't play on Apple TV, and finding the right piece of content across dozens of other streamers can take the relaxation out of the entertainment experience.

The Caavo box appears to be a unique attempt to bring all of its owner's streaming movies and TV shows into one interface. According to The Verge, the Caavo works by applying machine vision to video from other streaming devices attached to the eight HDMI inputs on the back of the machine. The box controls the attached streaming devices and "watches" the streaming box's output to verify that the input was received and processed. Caavo says its device is capable of performing content searches across multiple services and multiple streaming devices using the company's proprietary computer-vision tech.

Caavo's approach is wildly different from other "unifying" systems that function using IR repeaters to control multiple devices. Most famously, Microsoft's Xbox One has an IR emitter that's supposed to control a cable box attached to the user's TV set. Logitech's Harmony remotes rely on a similar concept to automate input switching on home theater systems. This approach can be fragile, because the memorized macros fail when interfaces change.

The box is expected to cost around $400 when Caavo launches the device in June. The company's spokesmen said the device's initial rollout may be to as few as 5000 users.  The machine vision technology behind the idea is interesting, but one wonders if some of its competitors might find a way to render the Caavo useless. Only time will tell. I'll be sticking with my HTPC.

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