Aside from 3D, HDTV, and color, changes in television set technology have been slow and subtle over the years, but with today’s changing tech landscape, TVs of the not-so-distant future could be intuitive, interactive devices that “watch us.” With the annual Consumer Electronics Show just around the corner, let’s look at some of the ways in which we can expect TVs to change.
1. TVs Will Watch You and Learn What You Like to Watch
It might take some face recognition technology already being demonstrated in the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich), Apple’s iPhoto and even Facebook, combined with some machine learning and AI technology but imagine how useful it would be if your TV could watch you for a change, learning all about your viewing behavior including likes and dislikes. After becoming familiar with your TV viewing preferences, your TV could become a virtual assistant for you, recommending programs or incorporating recommendations from your network of friends.
2. TVs Will Understand Gestures and Voice
As long as your TV is watching you maybe it will apply gesture recognition technology similar to what Microsoft has developed for its Kinect game controller and allow you to interact with your TV by waving your hand or nodding your head and of course there’s always Apple’s Siri technology so you can have a dialog with your TV using natural language commands to instruct your TV what to do.
3. Recommendation Engines and Proactive Recording
The same recommendation technology we find so useful in web sites like Amazon , Yelp, Netflix , Retrevo and others will find its way into the TV of tomorrow. “Cloud,” recording of shows on a DVR may become less necessary however, for first run shows like news, sporting events and award shows there will remain a need to record shows and whether the DVR is built into your TV or it’s part of the cloud, your TV should be aware of what you record and what you end up watching so it can make recordings for you without you setting up the recording. A truly intelligent TV would record shows for you that you didn’t even ask to record or discover shows in the cloud that it thinks you might want to watch. In other words your TV could tell you, “I took the liberty of recording a new show I thought you’d want to watch.”
4. The Tablet Becomes Part of Your TV
The fact that your tablet will most likely become your remote is safe to assume as there are many examples of it from companies like Sony and Samsung, but as tablets move into the mainstream, it’s likely the “intelligence” in new TVs may come more from your tablet than the TV itself. For example your tablet may become the medium that enables your social networking Facebook activity or run a recommendation engine, maintain a guide and monitor new shows looking for ones you might want to watch.
5. Your TV Will Become Part of Your Social Network
While this may seem obvious, there is a difference between connecting to Facebook on your TV to view wall postings, and integrating Facebook with your TV so your friends can see what you’re watching and chat with you about the TV show your watching. The concept of a “social” TV was introduced a few years ago by Boxee however we’re surprised the idea of integrating Facebook and TVs hasn’t been widely adopted. It should soon be easy for your friends to recommend things to watch and your TV should also learn which friends’ recommendations you like best. A socially aware TV will offer the ability to share the experience of watching TV together even when you’re not together.
6. The Future of TV Advertising; Super Personalized Ads
TV shows can be associated with certain demographics which advertisers can use to place personalized ads but with an intelligent TV, advertisers can not only know what you watch but whether or not you’re paying attention, chatting about it with your friends, or whether you lost interest and fell asleep. Soon, advertisers could tailor ads so personal you might find them disturbing.
Andrew Eisner is the Director of Community and Content for the gadget shopping site, Retrevo.com
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