Future of the user interface

The TV industry is under threat. As on-demand services grow in popularity, manufacturers should be reaping significant profits. After all, Smart TVs are ideal for connecting viewers with this new world of online content. But today’s consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets rather than Smart TVs. These second screen devices are nipping at the heels of TV manufacturers, dominating consumers’ attention.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad and the current range of Android devices owe their successes to a friendly and accessible user interface. Consumers have spoken with their wallets – they prefer the app-based nature of smartphones and tablets with their easy user interaction. Manufacturers need to extend the same design to Smart TV platforms to stay in the game.

The modern Smart TV user interface already contends with navigating linear TV, searching VoD content, interacting with apps and playing games. Smart TV has a huge potential when it comes to using these services. The bigger screen offers a lean-back, relaxed viewing experience engaging users to connect to content in a new way not provided by second screen devices. Given this, it’s no surprise that following the growth of VoD content, recent reports suggest consumers are investing in Smart TV technology in increasing numbers. They’re also connecting these devices including gaming consoles; with connection rates as high as nearly 70% in Western Europe.

However, usage figures for Smart TV services are far lower than expected. Manufacturers have invested heavily in Smart TV and spent great sums promoting this functionality. They have been successful in encouraging consumers to buy and connect Smart TVs, but not when it comes to actually using the services they provide. It’s clear that consumers want to access on-demand streaming services on their Smart TVs, but the unfamiliar user experience has inadvertently pushed them towards second screen devices, laptops and PCs.

Our Smart TV report confirms this. We asked TV industry professionals why they’re not engaging with Smart TV services, and almost half of respondents said a more intuitive user interface would encourage them to engage with Smart TVs more. Current Smart TV interfaces are too complicated and are failing to engage users.

Yet the user interface is only one part of the puzzle. The remote control is equally, if not more, important as it enables the user experience. Adding pointing and gestures to Smart TV would introduce new methods of interaction and help create a Smartphone-like experience that consumers prefer. In today’s hyper connected world, touch-based controls are king. Actions like double tapping an image to zoom have become commonplace on smartphones and tablets. It’s a logical form of interaction that consumers have grown to expect. These types of features are made possible on Smart TV using direct pointing technologies like uWand.

This is what the future of the TV UI comes down to – an effective technology that can repurpose the success of the smartphone and tablet UI for a living room audience. uWand is this enabling technology. It’s essential to the future of Smart TV UI. But don’t just take our word for it. To quote Wired’s Christina Bonnington; “uWand is all I want in a Smart TV remote control.”


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 http://www.uwand.com
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