Someone needs to develop a 'Shazam for movies' app for iOS devices

One of my favorite iPhone apps is Shazam, which "recognizes" and identifies music for you. I'd love to have a Shazam-like app for movies. Let me explain.

With Shazam on an iPhone or iPad, you launch the app, point your iDevice atyour car stereo or radio, press the Shazam button, and the app displays the name of the song playing, who sings it, and whether it's available for purchase at the iTunes Store. 

I'm a big movie fan, and watch lots of older movies on Turner Classic Movies. Sometimes an actor will appear on-screen and I wonder, "Who is that?" 

Of course, I can look up data on the movie and find info on the actors. But imagine if I had an app called, say, Shazam Movie on my iDevice. When an actor is talking or singing, I point my iPhone at the TV screen and, voila!, the app identifies the actor, pulls up background info and a filmography, and informs me which of his/her films are available at iTunes.

Crazy? Perhaps. Impossible to create? Maybe. I'm not a developer; I'm just thinking outside the box here. 

However, if a developer reads this and makes a bazillion bucks off the idea, please keep ol' Dennis in mind when cashing your checks.

But you might want to hurry. Last year Apple filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a “system and method for delivering companion content" that sounds similar to what I have in mind. Apple’s invention would provide “companion content” on a Mac OS X or iOS device that downloads content associated with a media presentation playing on a media player and displays the downloaded content at times synchronized to time-offsets (from the start of the program) of the presentation by signals from the media player.

In the patent filing (the graphic show is from that filing), Apple says that media presentations (e.g., movies, television programs, slideshows, etc.) can contain a wealth of information, including images of actors, audio sound tracks, images of clothing and other goods. However, information about the items seen and heard in a media presentation isn’t always discernable from the media presentation itself as it is playing.

For example, the name of a particular song playing at a specific time in a movie may not be readily determined at the time it plays in the movie. Apple says viewers may want to have immediate access to more information about whatever images or sounds are playing in the media presentation at a given time.

However, the patent also ties into product placement — that is, when companies pay to have their products into TV or movie scenes, such as an actor drinking a Dr. Pepper or driving a Mazda. Apple’s invention would provide a “better way to find content that relates to content shown at specific times in a media presentation.”