The news ticker, overused by the likes of Fox News and CNN, is about to get a refresh: New York-based smart TV startup Pixie is unveiling its take on TV’s notorious lower-third infobar this week, just in time for the World Cup. Pixie, which debuts as an app for Samsung’s 2012 and 2013 smart TVs, enables viewers to keep track of the Cup with an unintrusive horizontal card that displays the latest results without interrupting their TV program. Viewers who want to know more can always expand a sidebar and check out detailed stats on penalty cards and offsides and ball possession.
Pixie CEO Kai Bond told me during an interview Thursday that the goal of the app is to bring information that people tend to look up on their phones and tablets back on the TV screen, to make sure that your eyes aren’t elsewhere when the decisive goal is shot.
And Pixie isn’t stopping at World Cup goals: The app also pulls in information from Twitter, Instagram, Reuters, ESPN and other sources to complement your TV program with current information. Viewers can customize their own personal Pixie feed, and the company wants to launch a kind of app store for additional news sources soon.
Bond said that Pixie is also looking to provide contextual information to the program you’re watching through automated content recognition, and the company is working on the ability to pair your phone with the TV through a simple text message, allowing you to use your phone’s soft keyboard instead of the clunky TV remote control to look up information. Pixie already offers the ability to send content from the TV to your phone, and Bond says that his goal was to figure out the best way for these devices to complement each other. “We are not trying to be a second-screen killer,” he quipped.
Pixie is part of Samsung’s New York accelerator program, which explains why the company launched on Samsung’s smart TVs first. Eventually it wants to expand to additional platforms, and strike partnerships with TV networks and others looking to expand their reach on smart TVs.
Asked whether networks would be put off by Pixie’s app covering part of their screen real estate, Bond said: “To them, the second screen is way more threatening.” At least with Pixie, people would pay attention to the TV, instead of completely ignoring it while being immersed in their personal Twitter feed.