Umami, a New York technology firm, has signed up National Geographic Channel as one of the first networks to use its TV companion product for iPads, which will be available at the Apple App Store Tuesday.
Umami's app uses audio fingerprinting technology to sync continuously and automatically with live or time-shifted programming from all major broadcast and cable networks, giving viewers access to related content and social media activity. The app works with a publishing platform that allows networks to make customized program-related material available to viewers.
The app comes as TV network are increasingly interested in how viewers are using tablets and smartphones while watching TV. By delivering material related to their programs, networks believe they can make consumers more engaged with shows and with commercials.
"By providing both a consumer app and a publishing platform, Umami dramatically simplifies the creation of synchronous, companion TV experiences," Bryan Slavin, cofounder and CTO of Umami, said in a statement. "For example, one of our launch partners, National Geographic Channel, is leveraging Umami's second screen platform to deliver branded experiences around Expedition Week, airing the week of Nov. 7, and Knights of Mayhem, premiering Nov. 15."
A number of other partners will go live in the coming weeks, providing viewers with deeper content across a variety of programming, Umami said.
Umami was founded by Slavin, who'd previously worked at Lightningcast, Leap Wireless and Broadsoft, and Scott Rosenberg, who has been with Intel, ReplayTV, BlackArrow and Rovi. In August, Umami announced $1.65 million in seed funding from backers including NEA and Battery Ventures.
One of Umami's key advisers is Rick Sirvaitis, former head of GM Mediaworks and ad sales at Turner and Fox Family, said "Networks have been excited by Umami's consumer app, and the ease of creating interactive, social TV experiences for the platform," Sirvaitis said. "Umami makes TV more engaging, and that's a win for consumers, networks, and advertisers."