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Voice recognition coming to TV

A lot of people talk to their TVs, but they usually say things like "What's gone wrong this time?" That might change with the growing sophistication of digital video recorders (DVRs) and set-top boxes, according to Ken Morse, vice president of Scientific Atlanta speaking at the IPTV 2006 conference taking place in San Jose on Wednesday.

Voice recognition may become one of the options for navigating through the long video menus that will become more prevalent in the near future as video-on-demand becomes more popular, he said.

Another likely feature for living room entertainment will be burn-to-order DVDs. A growing number of set-top boxes come with built-in DVD recorders. Because those set-tops are connected to the net, a direct connection exists between a content distributor and your DVD recorder. A service connecting the content to the capabilities in the box are inevitable. (EZ Takes, a start-up, is also creating a burn-on-delivery service)

"That opens up the opportunity for direct burning," he said. "This is an area where there are a lot of discussions going on in the studios."

Another change coming to the living room may be the fanless DVR. Right now, most DVRs come with a fan. It keeps the hard drive cool. Unfortunately, fans are noisy. While companies would love to get rid of fans, the engineering isn't easy.

"It sounds like a simple thing to do, but trust me, it isn't," Morse said.