The date is January 6, 2014. Vivek Khemka’s Google Glass buzzes. Picking it up, he reads, “The excitement rating for tonight’s College Football National Championship Game is 96.” He says to it, “record”, and a field on the big screen behind him acknowledges the order.
Khemka, Dish Network’s Vice President of Technical Development, is at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He is demonstrating the Super Joey, his company’s new slave unit for the Hopper, its advanced HD-DVR. The device has voice recognition software, and company executives are proud of the fact that “it even understands southern accents”. Khemka tells it to find movies featuring Angelina Jolie. The Super Joey lists all of the movies featuring Jolie, and it asks Khemka if he wants to record one. He tells the audience that he’s not fond of Jolie movies in which Brad Pitt shows up. He tells the device, “Drop Brad Pitt”, and it narrows the list to Jolie movies without him. Khemka says to the audience, “For the new search, the Super Joey retains the context of the previous search.”
Khemka says that the Super Joey adds two new tuners to the Hopper-Joey platform. With this addition, the viewer can record up to eight programs at the same time, including the four major broadcast networks, and four more channels of the viewer’s choice.
There is more, he says. In upgrading the Hopper-Joey platform, Dish Network has arranged partnerships with Control 4, Buddy TV, Thuuz, and Southwest Airlines, among other firms. Control 4, a home automation company, will have its software incorporated into the Hopper, so the one device can control all of the home’s smart appliances. Buddy TV is an entertainment website. It publishes actor biographies, movie and TV show reviews, celebrity photos. personality quizzes, episode videos, slideshows, and user forums; and it will incorporate these into the Hopper-Joey platform. Thuuz alerts its subscribers to major sporting events, tracks where they can be watched, and can be integrated into the viewer’s fantasy leagues, making it easier for him to follow all relevant games and monitor his standings. Southwest Airlines has agreed to provide Hopper-connected iPads to its passengers on certain flights. Southwest wants to improve the entertainment options for its passengers, and Dish Network hopes that travelers, having experienced the Hopper, will want it for their homes.
Later on, Dave Schull takes the stage. He is Dish’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. He brags that his company has more than met its affordability objective, with the two-year consumer cost of the Hopper-Joey system being 30% to 45% lower than DirecTV or TiVO systems with similar capabilities. He says that the company’s second major objective is mobility. The company wants its Dish Anywhere application to make the Hopper the entertainment hub for the entire house, transferring its content to iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, game consoles, Kindle Paperwhites, and later to smart watches. Schull says that his third major objective is ease of use. Acknowledging that some viewers can be overwhelmed by the variety of available programming, he says that his company seeks to make its products easier to use with voice recognition, on-screen guides, and on-screen hints based on the viewer’s previous selections.
Editor’s note: the first Super Joey units available to consumers reached the market in mid-April.