A Glimpse into the Future of TV

While I teased you with a few thoughts about the future of TV in my original post, I thought it would be nice to open up the door a bit further and shed some light on the vision we’re actually driving towards. To do so, I’ve invited Mike Payne, Director of Experience Design, to share some ideas with you on where things are headed.

Here’s Mike:

Hey everyone. Would you be surprised if I told you that one day in the not so distant future you may be “talking” to your TV to tell it what you’d like to watch, and the TV will serve it up regardless of whether it’s coming from your cable provider, internet providers, or your personal library? Or that with the flick of a finger you could have some fun previewing what’s on TV and deciding what to watch with a video wheel that lets you browse through TV in a 3D interface (see image included in blog here)? While I could go on and on about the wealth of new TV experiences we’re working to enable and help bring to life, there are a few fundamental shifts that really have me excited.

Getting Around the TV

How crazy is it that most of us today use an ancient, flat, boring, text-based content guide to see what’s on and decide what to watch? Or that if we know what we want to watch but don’t know when/where it’s playing, we go into a terribly difficult to use on-screen keyboard that can take a minute or two to enter a search? TV interfaces and the capabilities of standard remote controls are far outdated and about to become ridiculously inadequate as a flood of new internet delivered content and services come to TV.

Get ready for some cool changes. We’re working with our partners and customers to create advanced user interfaces that utilize 3D graphics, visual video/content searching, and fluid motion navigation with gesture and touch remote controls that also integrate keyboards for text input and microphones for searching with your voice. Getting around the TV, and the wealth of new content, is going to be a whole lot easier, and much more fun.

Intelligent, Integrated TV

For those of you that are ahead of the game and already have access to internet content on your TVs today, you’re faced with a pretty isolating experience. You leave your “TV” experience to view a clunky made-for-PC internet browser or a list of available movies from your video service provider. It’s often slow and there’s no relationship between your broadcast TV experience and your internet experience. Now start to imagine a much more intelligent future in which the internet understands what you’re watching on TV and gives you direct access to related information, content, and services that you might care about. It could be information on actors or music in a show, a related show or movie, or even a game that is directly tied into the show. Or imagine that you can even reach into what you’re watching to find out more about something specific – simply by pointing to a landscape in a movie to find out more about the location or pointing to an athlete to see related highlight videos and history. Experiences like these are going to bring together today’s TV with the internet in a way that is meaningful and personalized to your liking – and again, we hope fun!

Friends, Family and Social TV

Whether it’s seeing and talking to a friend who lives across the country, sharing a family video clip with Mom, or egging on a fantasy football adversary while watching the game 1000 miles apart, the future of TV will afford a variety of social experiences that play to varying levels of desired interaction. Each family, community and circle of friends will have their own preferred form of sharing and being together, and new technologies and services will drive a host of opportunities for bringing them together. This will include shared virtual spaces that allow you to join friends from miles away. Picture all this as presence with the people you care about as opposed to sharing from a distance.

We’re pursuing this future with a rich internal culture and process that ensures we’re always grounded in how and why these experiences will be valued. We do a great deal of research around the world to understand how people are living, what they care about, and most importantly, why. We then set about designing and testing experiences that we believe they will value. The experiences I call out above are just some of the ones that have stood out as opportunities to shape a future for TV that retains the essence of what people love about TV and builds a brilliant new set of experiences to complement it.

This is not all going to happen overnight. It will come in steps with a few big jumps, but while much of this has been envisioned over the last 10 years or more, it is now about to become a reality. We’re here to help make sure it does.