Those darn TV remote controllers

07 Mar 2012|Leigh Marinner

There are few things that are as disappointing as settling in at home alone to finally watch a movie on the TV screen, and then not be able to figure out why the sound isn’t working, or why I can’t connect to the Roku box.  The other members of my family, who are out of the house doing their own thing, don’t really want to spend 5 minutes trying to talk me long distance through which buttons to push.  So I may try to use the online TV Guide to look for something interesting, but give up after trying to remember TV show names and typing in letters one by one using arrow keys on an interface left over from the last generation of Hertz NeverLost GPS devices.

Finally, with Xbox Kinect, and the reputed new Siri for other platforms that just the iPhone, and Google’s Assistant, we may almost reach the promised land of just thinking about what we want to watch and having it appear on TV.  Not quite, but closer.

If there was ever an area ripe for innovation, this has to be it.  First there are innumerable hurdles getting permissions to distribute content, which means that consumers have to jump back and forth between a variety of content sources to find what’s available (cable, premium pay channels, Hulu, Netflix, content producer websites, Amazon, iTunes…)  Then there are the user interface issues.  But there is hope.

Kinect is offering a way to “engage with interactive television and games in an entirely new way, enabled by Xbox 360 and its motion-sensing camera peripheral Kinect and voice recognition technology.”   Google is working on “artificial intelligence technology dubbed the ‘Google Assistant’ that could surpass the capabilities of Apple’s Siri voice assistant.” And at Apple, Steve Jobs had a vision of an integrated device that would combine Apple’s famously intuitive design interface with seamless access to a user’s media library. “I finally cracked it,” Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. The company is aiming to introduce a streaming TV service by Christmas.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could point at the TV and flip my finger to advance through listings to get what I want and then clap my hands and it would start (with sound), and just bill me automatically if that’s required?

Written by Leigh Marriner.  Leigh leads Cheskin Added Value’s business consulting practice. 

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