Big Changes Coming for Television Remotes

Ever since the remote control entered our lives, watching television has been a different experience. Being able to change the volume and channel without getting up has led to the addition of hundreds of new channels via cable and satellite feeds. Without the remote, it’s doubtful people would be spending nearly as much time in front of the telly as has become commonplace. Interestingly though, little has been done to improve on the original concept. The remote is still all about changing the volume or channel. But now, that’s all about to change and the technology driving it stems from gaming consoles.

The introduction of the Wii and then subsequently the Kinect allowed users for the first time to control something on their television screen with gestures rather than button pushing. This was, pardon the pun, a game changer. That’s because users now expect more from their technology. They see what can be done and ask why it’s not available already. And that’s why television remotes and the televisions they control are right now in the early stages of changing to meet these demands.

Consider Hillcrest Labs (see references) new motion control line of so-named Natural User Interface (NUI) products. Instead of producing remote controls, this company is selling technology that makers of television sets (and their remote controllers) can use to implement new, exciting and cool stuff for television viewers.

Imagine for example, a graphical user interface that pops up on-screen (or in just part of the screen) when you want to interface with your HDTV. By waving your remote around you can cause different menus or icons to appear or move around. In this manner you can scan television fare or move through movie titles, pausing only when something looks interesting. Or maybe you’d like to have your TV tell you about stuff you might like to watch, or avoid, like say, telling you that your favorite show is running a repeat and offering alternatives instead. Or maybe, you’d like to control an icon onscreen that serves as a little robot to help you figure out what to watch. Here at the onset, almost anything is imaginable.

And best of all, this isn’t one of those deals where you will have to wait, such technology is already embedded in the new remotes that come with the Roku content streamer, and television makers have already started making claims about coming products.

And if all that isn’t enough, Hillcrest says it’s technology will soon be in your Smartphone as well, so you can just toss the remote that comes with your television set and use your phone instead to do all these new things that are being promised.

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