Startup of the Week / Meet-Bob: Making TV Part of the Family

Dov Moran, inventor of the USB flash drive, is back with a new stick that 'makes the family stick together.'

Israeli high-tech whiz Dov Moran, famed for inventing the USB flash drive, is at work on the next consumer revolution – this time in television – with his new company Meet-Bob.

The innovation that brought Moran renown also plays a part in his new venture, yet here it’s a USB-style stick – named Bob – that turns every television in to a smart TV by connecting to an HDMI port.

The idea is simple: Enable the TV to host all the digital content that’s important to one's family, not just content that comes “packaged” via cable or satellite. The system allows families to communicate, share content, interact and play via the TV, regardless of where each member may be located.

The product name and slogan – “The stick that makes the family stick together” – were both chosen with the aim of making the device a part of the family. Each family member – parents, kids, grandparents – is defined as one of the system's users. For example, children would have access to channels meant for kids, with games and books and video chats – and settings chosen by the parents, who can limit their children’s viewing time.

The system also features a colorful, intuitive and easy-to-use interface suitable for all generations, but users can enter remotely and help Grandma and Grandpa if they have any trouble operating the system.

Within the system, one can watch IPTV channels (television content aired via the Internet), video content from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and others, read digital books, play games, do video chats, listen to music, or have access to pictures and multimedia from the family archives.

Meet-Bob will not supply the television content itself; rather it will be a platform used by service providers and retail chains. The Android-based product will be sold as a kit that includes a stick and a remote. Each stick contains a Wi-Fi antenna that makes it possible to put Web content on TV. It will also be possible to control the television and access content via a smartphone or tablet application.

It can also benefit content providers and retailers, as it opens up new television advertising possibilities, thanks to the information that Bob can gather about viewers (gender, age, etc.) if users connect via Facebook, for example.

Bob launched at CES, the global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas, and is expected to be marketed in the first quarter of the year at a target price of $99 for the stick and remote.

Moran’s Meet-Bob is a very young company founded late last year. How was that possible? Comigo, a sister company to Meet-Bob also founded by Moran, expands the TV experience by extending viewing across all types of handheld devices. Moran serves as CEO of Meet-Bob, while four more employees also joined its team from Comigo.

meet-bob.com