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Three decades of innovation in speech technology and telecommunications (Hugo)

The wild years 1993 to 1999 ... Racing, surfing and swimming with Hugo in 1995. The big premiere of the interactive TV show Hugo on April 14, 1994, is a real TV sensation for Germany: Viewers can join in live by phone for the first time in Tresor TV's interactive format on the cable channel (later Kabel 1) - and let Hugo run as they please.

In 1995, the little imp enjoyed the highest popularity among viewers aged 14 to 29, with an average market share of 14 percent. Interest in Hugo is so great that the telephony server is running hot: The switchboard for Germany, Austria and Switzerland has more than 250,000 fans who want to take part.

One important prerequisite: You need a push-button phone with touch tone dialing. Callers with a dial telephone were unfortunately not able to take part - and that was still standard in many households at the time.

Since only one caller per show receives the coveted candidate status - and to keep the costs for Hugo fans within limits - he or she is called back by the Hugo team and can fight for the main prize. In the process, they have to help the cartoon character Hugo overcome treacherous obstacles at the touch of a button and save his family in the end - all live on the phone during the broadcast.

In order to inspire more than just individual callers who were allowed to participate live, all callers were given the opportunity to leave their names and contact details in a structured way on a CreaLog portal. They were then automatically entered into a draw for attractive consolation prizes. The large amount of address data obtained could then also be used for the TV station's marketing activities.

Celebrity presenters

Behind the scenes, a staff of 30 coordinates technology, cameras, callers, games and prizes. Among the presenters on the team are Sonja Zietlow and Minh-Khai Phan-Thi who both make the leap into big show business from Hugo. Hugo himself ran, surfed, swam in 674 episodes of the Hugo show until 1997 - and is still present on the web, as the pages of the fan club prove:

Refer to Wikipedia for more information:

From voice computers anno 1995 to Mass Voting Platforms

The Hugo system is one of the early forerunners of today's mass voting platforms, which are used again and again for voting in current entertainment shows such as the ESC. Back then, 250,000 calls had to be handled in 30 minutes, but today the CreaLog Mass Voting platform at Swisscom manages many times that amount. During televote and call-in campaigns for Swiss TV and radio stations, several hundred thousand calls and SMS are processed in the short time windows of the broadcasts. To make it even clearer: The platform handles around 1,400 new calls per second during live televoting operations!

Details on a current televoting solution can be found here:

Case Study Swisscom Televote



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