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Boxfish debuts innovative live TV guide on iPhone

We review a lot of TV discovery apps here at Lost Remote, and Boxfish has brought something new to the table: a TV guide app with real-time search and “live windows” to let you catch a glimpse of what’s airing in real-time. Or to hear the company explain it, “[Boxfish] transforms television from a passive entertainment medium into a truly dynamic source of real-time information.”

Six weeks ago, Boxfish rolled out its iPad app, and today the app goes live on the iPhone. Like many apps, you start by creating or connecting an account and designating your zip code and TV service. After adding your favorite channels, the app transforms into a live display — six channels at once — of images from the channels themselves, updating every ten seconds.

But that’s just the beginning. Boxfish is indexing “every word spoken on television, as it happens.” Underneath each channel image, you can read (if you can keep up) a close-captioning-like scroll of what’s being said on air, right now. Key topics are highlighted, which Boxfish uses to power a “trending on television” list. As of this writing, NBA (Stern just announced his retirement) and Obama are the top two trending topics.

You can also search. I entered “social media,” and the Boxfish app returned mentions of the topic on ESPN, ABC and CSPAN, noting how long ago the term was uttered on TV.

And for some set-top boxes, it doubles as a remote control. First for DirecTV boxes, then TiVo and AT&T with the new version.

What’s even more interesting is Boxfish’s aspiration to extend its technology across platforms, from set top boxes to gaming consoles to third-party apps. In many ways, Boxfish’s own apps are a proof of concept to encourage MVPDs (a fancy way to say cable, satellite and IPTV companies, or multichannel video programming distributors) to take a look at integrating the technology. Co-founder Eoin Dowling is on record saying they’d even like to open the API for anyone to build on it — but not quite yet. “We don’t have the bandwidth to tackle what we know other people can do,” he says. “We want to be a utility.”

In the range of TV discovery startups, Boxfish is one to watch. “We have big ambitions around the disruption and evolution of television,” they explain. “We’re on a mission.”

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