User interfaces – Beyond the hype

When you think about our everyday interactions, we use our hands for gestures and pointing, our voice for speech, and our eyes and face for expression, and we use them simultaneously. There’s no reason the way we interact with devices like our TV won’t be the same in the future, however it isn’t easy to do. Our expressions, gestures and language are subject to cultural differences. One gesture in Spain could mean something entirely different in France so it’s debatable whether a gesture-only interaction language for universal use could even be developed.

At this year’s CES we saw a plethora of different technologies reinventing the way we interact with the TV, including device less gesture control and voice control. The demonstrations of device less functionality were impressive and, as we have seen with the Kinect, there is a market for active content interaction, particularly in gaming. With voice we had companies such as Ford, Lenovo, LG, Nuance and Samsung touting voice control for high-definition television, UltraThin laptops and even cars. Apple’s Siri solution has showed that there is potential for voice-control and that could certainly extend to the TV market.

While each of these technologies offer innovative and interesting ways of enhancing the TV viewing experience, we believe that the experience needs to remain (for the most-part) passive and inactive in order to drive mass market adoption. At the same time, control devices need to be able to keep up with the more active experiences Smart TVs can offer such as playing games. Today’s remote control device certainly doesn’t do this type of interaction justice.

In a perfect world all these technologies (gesture, voice and device) would come together and provide both a relaxed experience for ‘slobbing out’ in front of the TV, as well as one that lets users actively interact with apps and games. We would argue that not all of them provide a completely natural interaction experience yet. Device less gesture technologies still take the viewer too far into active participation to be suitable for all viewing scenarios, universal gesture-based device interaction is still some way off and voice control hasn’t overcome all its challenges either. Multiple Service Operators and TV operators should thoroughly test their interaction technologies with consumers to understand their likes and dislikes regarding the TV experience. Philips has done this and observed their behaviour with a diverse mix of in-house psychologists, anthropologists and physical therapists.

The payoff is we’ve been able to develop a user interaction model that allows consumers to get the most out of new features of Smart TVs and also allows a relaxing TV experience.


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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One Response to User interfaces – Beyond the hype

  1. Pingback: The remote control – the natural launching point for new control technologies | uWand

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