lundi 28 mars 2011

Remote controls

Screenshot of  Google TV remote
In a TV household, the power is at the end of the remote control. The closest person to the remote is the TV boss. Google TV has published an app which transforms your smartphone into a remote control. It is available for your android phone as well as for your iPhone. Nice app. Backlight, voice command, etc. And everyone in the family can have his or her own. Another family war can start, the one who shoots first wins...

Remotes are outdated: too many buttons. Confusing. Level zero when it comes to ergonomy. And there are also too many remotes for the same screen: for the TV set, the VCR, the DVR and the set-top box, (not to mention, for the panelists, a remote controlling the "people meter"). They are not always synced, contradict each other. It is a mess. Today's remote is a lost cause.

To win what is described as the "living room battle", Netflix has managed to have a Netflix button installed on remotes operating Blue-ray disc players , Internet-connected TVs (Sharp, Sony, Toshiba), Boxee or Roku set-top boxes, etc. Netflix claims to have 250 "Netflix ready" devices. Comcast has released an iPad app and one for android devices. Subscribers can customize their TV listing (synchronized with the website).

Demand side TV instead of supply side. In fact, the remote control as we know it cannot handle a TV market with hundreds of channels, VOD, teletext, DVD player, PVR, all kinds of consoles and, now, the Web. The so-called connected TV sets with Google TV, Apple TV or HbbTV interfaces are like a media marketplace; they need a browser, a search engine. Tablets and smartphones are the best solution, providing remotes and TV guides all at once. The viewers are getting used to this new kind of ergonomy. Nowadays, TV viewers are trained by the Web : they want to click, to personalize their homepage with apps, fling a file, save and share their favorites, they want to be localized, recognized (cookies !), they want to subscribe, unsubscribe... In 2008 Apple already published an app called "Remote", working via Wi-Fi, which uses iTunes to control music stored on a computer.
From the Web to TV, we observe the progressive transfer of habits, of know-how, of habitus. In the mechanism of digital media inheritance, the Web seems to become the dominant gene, TV the recessive one (for the purist, think "allele" instead of "gene"). This approximative metaphor suggests that the Web is now the form in which TV appears.

1 commentaire:

CélineBUNIFR a dit…

It has become a certain trend to make electronic devices less complicated and therefore easy enough for anyone to use. Think about smartphones for example: before you had many different buttons, now if your cell phone has a touch screen(e.g. IPhone, Samsung Galaxy, HTC one, ...) you usually use the screen and have one main button allowing you to do everything from calling, to listening to music, taking pictures/videos, communicating by email/texte message and using all kinds of applications. Technology has somehow moved forward hand in hand with more intuitive uses. The simple fact of having images representing every application makes it easier for us to remember what is what or where to go to find something. Colors, icons/images, using our fingers: somehow new technologies bring us back to our childhood(don't we show pictures to children to teach them certain things, offen with lots of color and don't children learn to grab and use their hands before anything else?).
If you allow the analogy, technology seems to have become less cluttered- indeed we no longer need three remote controls to watch TV, listen to music and put on a DVD. We do not receive big instruction manuals anymore but offen have updated instructions that can be found on internet for the device we want. All this makes us wonder whether one day, a simple digital pad will allow us to learn how to use, use and control all devices found in a household.