Designing an intuitive user interface for smart TVs

As I mentioned in the last post, my presentation at the Touch Gesture Motion conference looked at why the link between consumer behavior and control tasks is the key to designing natural user interface. By considering how humans interact with each other we are able to help user interface designers take those basic principles and apply them when creating a user interface for smart TVs and other devices.

At Philips Media Interaction we’ve been researching human/device interaction for years and have concluded that pointing should play a part in any interaction with devices because it is the most intuitive human action. Our research shows that pointing is one of the first things small children do and is the only interaction gesture that is not taught. In view of this, Philips developed a new intuitive user interaction model that allows consumers to point directly at objects on screen in a similar fashion to touch screens.

The result was the uWand technology, a natural pointing solution that uses direct pointing technologies and advanced Philips algorithms to eliminate users’ hand tremor and to compensate for the angle from and the distance to the TV. The result is a constant sense of control and an intuitive way of navigating the interactive services offered through smart TVs.

The control tasks that uWand enables are wide ranging and include:

  • gaming with gestures and motion
  • point and click on objects
  • easily reach the edges of the screen
  • select pages on screen
  • rotate and zoom on images (z-axis)
  • pick up moving objects
  • z-axis manipulation for 3D UIs
  • drag and drop images on screen

Working with FLO interactive, a specialist user interface design company, Philips developed a whitepaper to highlight the basic principles of graphical user interface design with cursor navigation in terms of: dragging, flicking, zooming, rotating and pointing and clicking gestures.


What’s clear from our focus groups research is each of these actions makes sense to users. The trick is to combine these actions without interference and degradation.


To find out more about how Philips has addressed this you can download the whitepaper in full from   




About Navin Natoewal, General Manager Philips uWand

Navin Natoewal is General Manager of the Philips uWand team. uWand is a direct pointing and gesture control technology for remote controls. uWand offers fluent 3D gesture control and direct pointing capabilities with the same intuitiveness as a multi-touch screen. uWand, a result of 80 man-years of research and development, can be implemented in remote controls and interact with multiple electronic devices such as PCs, TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players and game consoles. Users control the devices simply by pointing in the appropriate direction or making specific movements in all three dimensions. For more information please visit
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