The second day of CES kicked off with similar electricity and buzz surrounding Smart TVs and ways of controlling them. With attention focussed on applying different and new technologies to solve the TV interaction challenge, it is perhaps a more conservative approach that is thought of as a true step forward.
One of the reasons the TV remote has been so popular, and remained almost unchanged for decades, is its simplicity. You could navigate in a linear fashion from one channel to another, or adjust volume, without the need to get up from your seat. The layout was pretty standard across each device, with channel buttons displayed in rows of threes in numerical order. Symbols were standardised for certain functions such as the “input” or “teletext”, and even though more buttons may have appeared over the years, the basic design and principle has remained the same. The result is you can pick-up any remote control and know how to use it within seconds.
The challenge is TV is no longer linear. Smart TVs don’t just provide more content; these devices are enabling new forms of interaction, and these interactions require control beyond that of pushing a button. The problem is that the many of the various technologies on show at CES, such as voice interaction and Kinect style deviceless gesture control are impressive but not necessarily what consumers want to use every day to change the channel.
I do believe these technologies have their place and do wonders for getting the industry mobilised in changing and evolving ideas, but consumers still need familiarity when it comes to TV interaction. Whether gaming or watching a show, they need to know that the button is still available to press if needs be. We believe in an evolution not a revolution of TV interaction.