April 29, 2021
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Next Up. This week: a movie currently streaming on Netflix gets dubbed by AI, and the streaming service is adding a new button for those moments when you can't decide what to watch.
(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Next Up every week.)
Israel-based AI dubbing startup Deepdub is going longform: The company has struck a deal with New York's MiLa Media to localize the studio's feature film "Every Time I Die," which currently streams in English on Netflix, for the Americas. Deepdub will use its AI voice synthesis technology to dub the film in Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, and the resulting versions will feature voices that sound just like those of the original actors.
"This means that we need to accurately capture the voice style and attributes of the original actors' voice and properly adapt them and modify as needed to match the target language," explained Deepdub CMO Oz Krakowski. "In this case, Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese require different adaptations."
Ashkenazi told me that he plans to approach Netflix about distributing the dubbed versions of "Every Time I Die" as well. "At the same time, with more cinemas opening towards the summer, MiLa's distribution team is negotiating with several big distributors in the Latin American market," he said.
This is the first time Deepdub has tackled an entire feature film, and in fact may be a first for the entire industry. And even if Netflix decides to pass on the dubbed versions, it's just a matter of time until you get to see an AI-dubbed version of a film or TV show on your favorite streaming service. If the technology works as intended, you won't even notice a difference.
Deepdub is looking to tackle additional projects of this size in the coming months, while also growing its geographic reach; Krakowski told me the company is looking to add additional target languages in the second half of the year.
Financial fraud isn't waning, and as it increases, security tools designed to protect the data in use need to get stronger to combat more complex fraud. Confidential computing is going to play a big role in the future of financial services.
To help consumers overwhelmed with choice, Netflix is adding a "Play Something" button to its TV interface this week. Pressing it automatically launches a new show or movie based on the service's existing personalized recommendations. And if it's not the right title for the moment, consumers can click to play something else.
Netflix began testing the "Play Something" button last summer. These trials included both A/B tests with millions of consumers around the globe as well as more traditional focus groups, according to Netflix Product Innovation Director Cameron Johnson. The result is a button that is featured prominently in three different places: the profile splash page, the sidebar menu and on the home screen itself, where it is strategically placed in the 10th row of content, as a kind of hint for people who just keep scrolling down. "That is an indication that you are struggling to choose," Johnson said.
However, the company decided against a true channel-based, lean-back experience, which has been adopted by streaming services like Pluto TV and Samsung TV+ to offer cable defectors a familiar interface. "We didn't want to replicate internet TV," Johnson said. "We want to invent the future."
Netflix is now looking at ways to bring "Play Something" to mobile, where the company plans to test the new feature within the first half of this year. For that implementation, Netflix may look to social apps like Instagram and TikTok for inspiration, with Johnson praising their take on video as successful watch-first experiences. "That is something that we should all aspire to," he said.
A version of this story first appeared on Protocol.com.
We were promised giant holograms: Hollywood's vision of our collective future often disappoints, especially if you are among the people building that very future. That's especially true for AR interfaces, which tend to be completely overwhelming and borderline useless. For instance, AR developers have long criticized Marvel's "Iron Man" as an example for bad tech, and rightly so. I mean, seriously: Can you imagine getting bombarded with schematics and progress bars and frantically blinking lights while trying not to crash-land your flying suit?
However, Niantic UX designer Alexandria Heston took to Twitter this week to show the things that "Iron Man" got right about AR interfaces, from gamification to multi-modal interaction. The whole thread, including some thoughtful responses, is a great read. And now I want to watch "Iron Man" again. For science!
Thanks for reading — see you next week!