Dish Adds Alexa Voice Search Across Live, DVR Services

Dish now allows consumers to use Amazon Echo's Alexa to control any generation of a Hopper DVR or a Wally satellite receiver. The company says Alexa can search for content, change the channel, play, fast forward, rewind, and pause or resume -- and that its universal search functionality enables people to use Alexa to search across live TV, DVR recordings, Dish’s on-demand catalog, and Netflix.

"Alexa, change channel to ESPN" is one example used by Dish. "It's easier to read player stats on your phone while flipping between basketball games; to chop ingredients in the kitchen while rewinding a TV scene you just missed; to snack on popcorn while searching for your favorite film -- the list goes on," said Niraj Desai, Dish vice president of product management, in a statement. 

Although the feature is not new for Alexa, it demonstrates the advances Amazon has made in voice services and search, giving credence to WPP CEO Martin Sorrell's recent comment that Amazon is a threat to Google when it comes to search.

Amazon's Fire TV has many of the same search features. On Fire TV, users can tell Alexa to launch the Netflix app, for example, as well as play movies, music or TV shows. Apple, Android TV and others like Roku also offer voice TV through search voice functions.

Amazon has been working to develop patents around what it calls "automatic speech recognition" and search. A patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March identifies true keywords from "false positives" based on the ability of a speech recognition to spot keywords, and a video search patent provides users with lists of videos similar to a reference video selected by the viewer. Both patents were granted in May. 

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