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Thursday, November 6 12:01 EST

Tivo's FutureVue+ Revolutionizes TV Viewing

By Dave Townsend

Alviso, CA - The Tivo FutureVue+, the latest model of digital video recorders, adds the ability to fast-forward through the television program you are watching, before the show has even aired.

"In the past Tivo's features allowed viewers to pause what they are watching while they answer the phone, or grab a snack", said Dennis Halder, Tivo CEO. "But, this only allows watchers to see what happened in the past. What our team has created allows watchers to see what is going to happen in the future.

"Think of the benefits. If you are halfway through a soap and you have to go out, you can just fast-forward to catch the final cliffhanger so you can chat to your friends about it later"

Andrew Smelder, head of Tivo's R&D department explained the system, "Simply the FutureVue+ contains a microprocessor capable of stochastic reasoning that allows it to predict the future of a program to within a small margin of error."

"Of course", Smelder added, "the margin of error depends on the type of program. Soaps and Hugh Grant films are easy to predict, whereas live shows are more difficult. Thankfully, as the FutureVue+ watches more of the program, it improves its reasoning."

Many buyers may be disappointed to find that its features have been restricted for some types of programming. The Las Vegas Gaming Commission has complained that the ability to fast-forward through sporting events could bankrupt bookmakers. To combat this Tivo has agreed to install 'genre locks' on the fast-forward feature.

So far Tivo is only set to stop you fast-forwarding through live sporting events, however companies that make advertisements and infomercials are said to be in talks with Tivo.

Smelder brushed this limit aside, elaborating on the features, "The FutureVue+ not only allows you to see what is going to happen in your program, but as the plus implies you can change the future of the program as you see fit. Watching a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode and feel the urge to see Wesley killed? Simple, just tell the Tivo FutureVue+ how you want him to die and it will slowly twist the plot in that direction."

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Television companies have expressed concern at this feature of the Tivo, saying that it probably allows watchers to come up with better storylines than they can.

We approached Smelder at the end of the press conference to ask about the genre limits: "I wouldn't worry too much about it, there will probably be 'genre hacks' leaked onto the internet quickly after the FutureVue+ being released," he replied.

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