Caavo uses computer vision to unify control of streaming boxes

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.

Comments closed
    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    Oh good, a magical box which will suddenly stop working correctly for no discernible reason.

    • toastie
    • 3 years ago

    $400? Crazy. I’ve got a Harmony hub controlling my HTPC, Roku, A/V system, TV and Wii, and it is anything but fragile. And it was $120. And with the new firmware, it will do some home automation as well.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]This approach can be fragile, because the memorized macros fail when interfaces change.[/quote<] And video processing on the visual interface isn't? If anything I'd expect this to be more fragile.

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    So…you still have to buy all those set top boxes and all this does is control them?

    • TwistedKestrel
    • 3 years ago

    If only HDMI-CEC was mandatory… I was willing to accept this kind of nonsense back in the days of NTSC cable and VHS recorders, but this should have been dead by now. Interoperability should have happened, especially considering that just about everything has HDMI ports on it now. Frankly it’s kind of incredible that IR remotes still exist at all

      • Ari Atari
      • 3 years ago

      IR still exists because it’s just an easy and cheap why of having a remote that hasn’t really been beaten by anything new. Sure, you could, say, have a wifi or bluetooth remote so you didn’t have to point it in the correct direction, but that is orders of magnitude more expensive for what you get and ends up as a loss in wifi congested areas. It’s similar to why analog FM and AM radio still exists or why the 3.5mm jack still exists; it’s old, cheap tech that does the deed in a more profitable way than any new developments.

      In some ways, I feel it would be a great loss to drop any of those three technologies from everyday products. It makes repairing or building a replacement part so much easier. I’m sure it could also make a nice engineering project to make a working IR remote for your TV assuming you could get the flash codes.

        • rechicero
        • 3 years ago

        Dont forget IR remote batteries last for years… If I can choose, IR remotes all the way. I hated having to replace batteries every few months with a PC remote, now, with an IR remote, I’m still waiting to replace them for the first time.

          • Ari Atari
          • 3 years ago

          Too late, I already did. =p

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