Inspiration

It's super difficult to have a real conversation with other fans watching the same shows we love. We wanted to create a Twitch-like experience for watching TV with the world. Ideally, this experience lives on top of the show we're watching and we can choose to hide it or open it when we want to be part of the global conversation. On top of that, we wanted it to use NLP to give us awesome show-related info in a messaging format AND to bring the characters to life with a little bit of AI magic ;)

What it does

WatchParty is a messaging view that lives on top of videos we watch on the web. Playing a live episode of The Walking Dead on AMC.com, for example, we can click on a button that tells us how many viewers are live talking, and immediately see the messaging view on the side of the show. Our messaging bot also listens to your questions and replies when you ask or comment about certain events or characters. Try asking "How many zombies killed so far?"

How we built it

We built it as a embeddable iframe, that can be added to any website. Based on the parameters loaded on the URL, it will know which episode and time stamp to sync with. The front end application itself is a javascript/angular application. Backend in grails/java.

Challenges we ran into

Using api.ai, we wanted the viewer to be able to ask questions about the show's metadata, the characters, music, events, and get real intelligent responses. It took a little bit of trial and error, but with the api.ai platform, we created some examples that allow users to ask questions like "how many walkers have been killed so far" or statements "Rick Grimes is awesome" to receive custom messages from the show.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Rick Grimes and Darryl Dixon have come to life! With a messaging tool and a little bit of AI magic, we can bring our favorite characters into the conversation and bring the show into a whole new dimension!

What we learned

We learned that iFrames can have a semi-transparent background! We totally argued about that for way too long. But we also learned that there's a whole world of interactivity that we could bring to television, if we just manage to do it right.

What's next for WatchParty

We're going to continue building on this infrastructure and try to partner with smaller TV producers/networks to provide them access to this messaging widget and engage their audiences as they watch.

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