Accessing Information on the Internet Simply by Holding a Smart Device to the TV

Today, more and more viewers are using smartphones and other devices to immediately search for information on products and stores that they become interested in as they watch TV programs. In response to this trend, Fujitsu has developed TV communication technology that enables viewers to quickly display information they want simply by holding up their smart devices to a TV screen. In the future, this technology will increase the fun of watching TV and expand the possibilities of the TV business through broadcasting-communication convergence by using technology for connecting TV commercials with digital signage.

Watching TV while holding a smartphone becomes a gateway to the Internet

The spread of smartphones, tablets, and other devices has changed the way we watch TV. Today, many viewers keep their smart devices handy while watching and quickly search for information on places or products introduced in programs using the Internet as well as to reserve hotels shown in travel programs. In this way, more viewers are actively accessing information beyond what the TV can offer directly.

This trend is especially notable in TV shopping. However, in many cases the viewer must enter a URL to search for product names and websites introduced in TV programs. For this reason, not every viewer is able to reach the page that introduces the product the viewer is interested in. What can be done to enable those watching TV to access more detailed information using simpler smart device operations? This is the challenge we faced.

Using characteristics of the human eye, invisible signals can be sent to the to smart devices

To enable viewers to quickly access the information they want, signals must be transmitted from the TV to the smart device. Available technologies for sending signals from a TV include visible light communication, which transmits information via light pulses, and digital watermarking, which adds noise to TV images. However, these conventional technologies have huge barriers to widespread adoption because their use requires additional dedicated receivers or results in deteriorated image quality. Previously, the method in which QR codes are displayed on-screen has also been used. However, this method requires the viewer to come closer to the screen while holding up the device. The QR code provider must also use space on the screen to display the QR code.

What technology can enable viewers to receive information from a distance without reducing image quality or available screen space? Fujitsu paid particular attention to certain characteristics of human eye, which naturally is less likely to sense things that change slowly.

The new technology Fujitsu has developed allows information to be sent by slowly changing the shade of TV images in the same manner as is done with visible light communication. With this technology, signals can be transmitted without reducing image quality because the human eye is unable to recognize these changes.

With this technology, receiving signals is also simple. By merely holding up the smart device (upon which a dedicated application has been installed) and pointing its camera at the TV screen, anyone can easily receive the signal. When the smart device recognizes a slow change in the shade of the image, it automatically accesses the Internet to open the relevant webpage. Even from a distance, the viewer can receive information merely by holding up his or her smart device to the TV screen.

Fujitsu distributes information for a popular TV shopping program using its new technology

Distribution of information using this new technology has already begun. The TV shopping giant JAPANET TAKATA has adopted this technology to offer new shopping experiences to viewers.

On JAPANET TAKATA’s JAPANET Channel DX, a special mail-order shopping channel, if viewers find any products they are interested in, they need only start the dedicated application on their smart device and hold up the device to the TV screen in order to access the page introducing that product. From there, detailed product information can be checked and shopping can easily be enjoyed.

The convergence of TV and the Internet has just begun. We expect this technology to be applied to a wide range of fields, from website access and online shopping to TV programs featuring elements of gaming.