Telly has come a very long way from simply being a box you can view things on. For many years now we’ve had extra features such as games, competitions and interactive text all fed to us over the airwaves. But that’s all about to get a lot more advanced with the Smart TV generation stepping into the frame.
Lets face it, ever since the internet came into existence, the television has been slowly losing the battle for your attention. There’s just no way around it, we love interactivity and despite the phone-ins, text messages and ‘press the red button’s’ current TV provides, it simply can’t compete at the same level.
It was therefore inevitable that TV’s themselves would have to evolve and this is where we get the notion of Smart TV. The idea is simple, your TV plus the internet. So now you’ll be able to browse from the comfort of your front room on your 52″ plasma display. Brilliant!
Now of course this does cause some rather problematic issues. First of all, the humble TV remote is not a mouse and keyboard (despite the what Google and Sony may think with their remote below). The user interface has to be completely overhauled, this WILL NOT be a full web experience that you can enjoy on your desktop computer or laptop.
But what it can do is bring an unparalleled amount of content into your front room. With devices already on the Market such at Apple TV and Google TV, you can stream content straight from YouTube and other video sharing sites, straight onto your big screen. Moving further than that, catch up TV from BBC iPlayer or 4OD can be streamed in high quality to your TV set. And moving even further you can watch movies from the internet on your TV set, either renting or buying them online.
A lot of this video content has been available on your computer (and with some digital TV companies) for a few years now, but being able to bring all of the internet’s video content to your telly is pretty cool stuff.
What’s also cool is Smart TV’s ability to use the net as an interactive tool. Users of Smart TV’s will be able to browse several news sites, contact shows direct, set reminders for TV programmes among several devices as well as have recomendations of what other shows they may like to watch.
The social web is also bound to be present with both Facebook and Twitter jumping at the opportunity to expand their networks. You can recommend a show you’re watching to another friend, or discuss it’s content instantly with others straight through the telly itself. Again the user interface may be a bit clunky for this at first, but I could see it catching on. Just look at how many people already tweet while watching TV.
Of course there won’t be one Smart TV, several companies are battling in this arena, the most notable being Google, Apple, LG, Sony and Samsung. Each of the offerings are bound to be quite different and it’s true to say that this technology is still in it’s infancy (and very expensive), but the concept of Smart TV is one that’s unlikely to go away soon.
In fact I think this is most likely to be the next big thing in TV. As I mentioned at the start, we love interactivity and Smart TV finally brings this idea to life on the telly. The question is whether Smart TV’s can move people away from simply bringing their laptop or tablet into the front room for a bit of telly-browsing.