The annual Consumer Electronics Show has always been the place to launch new products that have the potential to change the living room TV experience. From the first plasma high definition TVs launched in 2001, to the introduction of OLED screens offering the thinnest, lightest and most vibrant displays ever seen in 2009. From what I’ve seen so far, CES 2012 is set to mark another milestone in how the viewing experience will change.
Day 1 kicked off with many of the biggest CE manufacturers touting their latest and greatest Smart TVs. These connected televisions offer viewers the widest range of content, from OTT and Video On Demand, to gaming on demand and hundreds of apps. But Smart TVs are nothing new; in fact the first devices were announced three years ago. So, what’s the real buzz about this year?
The answer is control: CES 2012 is turning out to be the year of the control device. Until now the remote control and user interface have been forgotten about while TV screen technologies and hardware functionality significantly improve.
Now the industry seems to have woken up to the fact that it has to replace the traditional remote control. With a plethora of services offered via the TV, many of them interactive, the risk of not providing an intuitive and interactive control experience could result in the entire Smart TV market failing.
The potential solutions in the mix range from voice control, pointing, mobile applications and deviceless gestures. While voice interaction is getting a lot of attention, many industry commentators see it as no more than a gimmick, yet feel that pointing solutions (which evolve the current remote control) are a more realistic option – especially while consumers still want to be largely passive when watching TV. Although it remains to be seen which of these technologies will win in the long run, what is certain is that the way we physically interact with TV will change for the better.