Bhaalu is making headlines in Europe with two recent announcements on Bloovi.be. The first article is an interview entitled Belgian startup, Bhaalu, launches new way of watching television.
Bhaalu, a new way of watching television, launches soon. Bhaalu is a startup from the Belgian Internet entrepreneur Bart Van Coppenolle. Bloovi asked Bart a few questions about this new project, the following is an English translation of the Interview which was conducted in Flemish.
How can bhaalu differentiate themselves from competitors?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: Bhaalu offers the viewer the only truly relaxing and enjoyable TV experience. We have the domain expertise required to design a user interface for television that is specifically based on neuropsychological findings and neuropsychological our own patented technology. Our working knowledge and experience in this subject is much more scientific than any other TV experience vendors in the marketplace.
So, simply put, once person uses bhaalu, they will never be able to go back to the rest of the traditional television experiences. Aside from our neuropsychological and technological experience, we also have a lot of collaborative DVR technology patented, such as the technology that is necessary in order to make catch-all TV, TV Anywhere, and TV Everywhere.
What is bhaalu?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: Bhaalu is a product that allows the user to watch what they want, when they want and from whereever they want. To get an idea of what bhaalu is, you can check out the following video:
Bart, can you tell us why you started with the bhaalu project?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: I’m an entrepreneur, but also a philosopher, so you’d best be served not to ask me such questions. But if you want to hear the answer; bear with me… The modern era, with the invention of the steam engine, the car and the plane, etc.., it was a time of oppression of the mind of man by rational thought. It was and is still so today.
We live in a time of need, of coercion, mental killing, the killing of freedom and creativity, killing the spirit of mankind. Think of our hectic, alienating lifestlyes. Busy, busy, busy, no time for much of anything.
Television is bad because it makes us lazy, etc. … Linear TV viewing is a child of this oppressive environment. You need to know exactly what time your favorite TV program will be broadcasted otherwise, you miss it. Or, you are forced to re-schedule your day to make time for TV.
This pressure creates anxiety and stress instead of relaxation. Content searches via keyboard and Google TV, or even via a beautifully designed app with text and icons, does not result in an intuitive and relaxing discovery, but rather a stressful and frantic search. During the age of the Internet – through experience and through social media – we’ve changed all that.
It is not about searching, but uncovering; not about working, but relaxing and creating; not about big corporations, but about people; not about selfishness or altruism, but about empathy; not about treating TV consumers as a kind of cattle, but about an empathetic TV experience.
We see it as our mission to contribute common consciousness to the recent societal shift from left brain to right brain; not only in TV land, but also in other parts of society.
After I sold my previous software company Metris, I was with my girlfriend and two children on the sofa watching TV and was surprised by the archaic style of left hemisphere TV navigation. I understood that this was another part of the mind-numbing oppression of humanity by its own left-brained consciousness.
I also saw how a Google TV interface used a keyboard, an inherently left-brained interface. For that reason, my business partner Mr. Philip Vandormael and I founded Right Brain Interface, which after about 2.5 years of development, has introduced bhaalu to the market.
What makes bhaalu unique and different from the TV services that already exist?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: To begin, bhaalu is not a TV service, but more like a moden day VCR. We have chosen the Right Brain Interface, the software interface with our common intention to bring consciousness to a VCR/DVR, A TV with a VCR-like experience, because the most compelling left hemisphere projection, linear time, can be broken up.
You can rewind and fast forward in time. With bhaalu, people can regain their freedom from fear of a linear time break. Freedom is a mind set – you do it yourself. Freedom is not a service that someone else can deliver to you.
But back with two feet on the ground: Bhaalu is different fromany other TV experiences because this technology, if only provisionally, allows the authenticated viewer access to a universe of personal video content in which to compile all of the content that he / she is entitled to.
It is independent of time and place, and it provides virtual personal and social channels, each with their own time and recommendation dimensions. Summed up in a slogan: “Bhaalu is my Catch-All TV Everywhere”.
Are you afraid that larger players such as Apple, Netflix or Telenet mightcome up with a similar solution?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: No, innovation and creativity always arises within small teams. Apple is the only large company that has used small, entrepreneurial and creative teams to drive innovation.
My last company grew the same way, and was sold to a very large company, so I know what I’m talking about. We’ve also had our inventions patented, and we will rigorously defend them in court if required to do so. And by the way, we do not have an app – WE are the platform to which other apps will later be able to plug in and build upon.
How does bhaalu differ from its competitors?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: Bhaalu offers the viewer the only truly good TV experience. We have designed the experience to be specifically based on neuropsychological findings and patented neuropsychological technology. The bhaalu TV experience is much more scientific than any other TV experience on the market, so once people use bhaalu, they will not look at television the same way again.
Besides neuropsychologically-based technology, we have also patented collaborative DVR technology, which is necessary in order to provide “catch-all TV Everywhere.”
Recently there was a lot of commotion about banning the practice of skipping over TV advertisements. Bhaalu is committed to offering a fast-forward function for its ads. What is your view on these problems?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: The delayed viewing of video content falls under consumer law, so the Flemish Parliament doesn’t have to change anything about it [Editorial Note: Singapore law is the same in this regard]. The ability to skip ads and view them later is a key feature, and we have that feature in bhaalu. You can skip annoying advertisements and view them at a later time where they don’t interrupt your current show.
However, there is a tacit agreement between the commercial broadcasters and the community that while these stations broadcast free content, they must broadcast advertisements as well. But, also in this agreement, the viewer can skip up to 60 minutes of commercials, building a sort of commercial “debt.”
The viewer then pays the debt by looking at interesting personalized advertisements or by paying money to not view them. Thus, the rights of the TV viewer and the rights of the commercial channels are respected, and without law (or media decree) having to be changed.
TV thrives on advertising, but the viewer gets the chance to skip through commercials. After a while, however, the viewer is still required to look at them. How user friendly is this feature for the consumer and the advertiser? Does this not frustrate both parties?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: Viewers are disallowed from skipping through ads only after they surpass their 60 minutes of advertising credit. Afterward, it is just like watching regular TV. Even if there are ads between two films, viewers can check their Facebook or e-mail, or whatever they normally do during ads.
It’s really more relaxing than frustrating. For advertisers, this approach holds the advantage in that we can deliver much better statistics. We know which ads are the most effective and get the most views. And above all, we can personalize the ads based on viewers’ selections and desires. With this system, the rights and interests of all parties are reconciled without frustration.
Should marketers think about product placement or other alternatives?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: They do not have too, but may want too. Not out of fear, however, but out of desire; not by coercion, but by freedom of choice. In a perfect world, I think good marketers want beautiful, creative and seductive advertisements where the viewer doesn’t feel the need to skip through it.
You have already built a lot of experience in the startup world. What tips would you recommend for budding entrepreneurs?
Mr. Van Coppenolle: Dare to dream and work hard. Blame no one, not even yourself. Never force anyone, but do everything to enforce your desired result. It is the subject of my next book.