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BBC iPlayer could be getting voice controls — wait, what?!

The BBC has announced it has been working with Microsoft to test an artificially intelligent voice control system for the iPlayer.

The proof of concept experiment enables users to sign into the iPlayer with their voiceprint. It’ll also allow them to request genres or specific programmes.

For example, the internal prototype would enable users to ask “what’s going on in the world?” to summon BBC News. They could also ask to “find something funny.” Naturally, it’ll also respond to “put Eastenders on” too.

Related: iPlayer password controls explained

Once it identifies a user upon voice sign-in, all of the usual programme recommendations will appear.

The BBC says in future, such a tool could lead to a full-on conversation with the TV about what to watch. It could also ask a viewer whether they wish to continue their viewing started on another device.

Eventually, such a tool could identify multiple voices in the room, thus making recommendations suitable for all.

In a post on the BBC blog, Cyrus Saihan wrote: “There could be interesting scenarios in a typical family setting too. Just by listening to the voices in the room, your TV could automatically detect when there are multiple people in the living room, and serve up a personalised mix of content relevant to all of you in the room.

“When your children leave the room to go to bed, BBC iPlayer might hear that the children are no longer there and then suggest a different selection of content for you and your partner. All of this personalisation could happen without anyone having to press a button, sign in and out or change user profiles.”

iPlayer’s own Alexa?

While intriguing, there’s no indication the BBC plans to roll out this tool any time in the near future.

It also doesn’t sound that revolutionary, with Siri and Amazon’s Alexa also performing these types of tasks for the respective Apple TV and Fire TV products.

We’re also not sure about the prospect of an always-listening iPlayer figuring out how many folks are in our living room either.

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