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Now your TV set will do unimaginable things

The idiot box is getting idiot proofed not only will it look super slick, it will also do unimaginable things.

brunch Updated: Jan 07, 2012 15:59 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

It’s About To Change Everything! The idiot box is getting idiot proofed not only will it look super slick, it will also do unimaginable things.

Technology category revolutions take place every few years. The PC went from a huge klunky dump on our table to a sleek and portable laptop machine we could carry with us and with that our lives changed forever.

Phones morphed from being wired fixed-line albatrosses chained to our homes and offices to revolutionising every aspect of our daily lives!

These were game changers that literally transformed the world as we know it. Your humble television is about to go through a complete change too and that change is going to change everything else around it.

The Zapper gets Zapped
The television has gone though many changes, yet the remote control has remained the same for the last 50 years. A bewildering array of buttons on a standard plasticky wand-like form factor. The reason is pretty obvious there has been no compelling financial reason to change it.

Nobody buys a TV based on its remote! At the shop you check out specs, screen, features and looks never the remote. Plus there hasn’t been a reason to innovate around the remote as TV functionality has remained very static.

Logitech Harmony 1100 is a touchscreen remote control

From here it all changes dramatically. Voice, Gesture and Touch will become huge. Siri on the iPhone has excited people a lot. Microsoft Kinect is a great example of body gesture control. And touchscreens have now become second nature. You’ll hold a remote to your mouth speak into it and change a channel.

You’ll wave your hands and control the volume and you’ll touch a screen that dynamically changes control buttons according to what you’re watching.

Second Screen

Here’s another revolution in the making. A lot of people watch television with their smartphone or Tablet cradled in their lap. They use social networks to chat about what they’re watching, they fire up Google to get details of something they saw, they order food online after seeing a pizza commercial.

Thus you’re watching TV but consuming it with two screens but with your own efforts. That’s about to change to automated mode. Imagine an app that hears what you’re watching analyses it and keeps throwing up relevant information on multiple windows.

It shows you what Facebook and Twitter is saying about it, it opens up a fan page of the anchor, the restaurant that he is talking about, a travel agency booking page for the city he’s in, alternate TV shows that are similar, plus reams of information and advertising that is cleanly focussed on what you’re watching. The second screen is about to explode right beside your TV in 2012.

End of Prime Time

This has been spoken about many times but it’s only now that it’s really happening. Real high speed broadband, video on demand right from your set top box, show downloads straight from the Net, mobile phones that can stream HD video instantly, Tablets that give you a near TV experience and content that is now available when you want it, where you want it.

Why would you waste time hurrying back home to catch your favourite show at a specific time on a specific day?

That is so 2011! Lots of innovation is happening in this space too with shorter versions of shows called appisodes, fast packaging so that you can consume more in those five-minute breaks, different shoot formats and larger text and labelling to make sure you’re not squinting at your small little screen. Prime time broadcast your end is near!

Throw out your brand new 1080P HD TV

Well, don’t throw it out just yet but it is on its way out. Yes, just when you saved up enough and bought your dream large screen TV with full HD here I am telling you exactly how redundant it is. And before you shoot the messenger do remember I don’t invent the stuff I just report it.

Yes, the next big thing in TV technology is the 4K standard that has a mind-boggling resolution of 4096 x 2048. And it has a pretty mind bending name too Ultra Definition TV. Just how much of a difference does this make?

To put things in perspective a normal DVD has just four per cent of the resolution this has, or if you really like your stats 4K TVs will give you around 9,830,400 pixels which makes the picture unreal in clarity and smoothness.

Gesture control is your last chance to feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report (above)

4K TVs and home theatre projectors are already appearing and the tipping point will be when there is source content that is also 4K. Like I said, don’t throw your current state-of-the-art TV out but do start looking for burial space.

Other innovations are around the corner. OLED TVs have been the dream and make the LCD/Plasma/LED trio literally pale in comparison. Till today OLED production has been tough and even the small ones cost big. But 55 inch OLED TVs are now at prototype stage and 2012 should see commercial release.

Naked eye no-glasses-needed 3D is almost perfected and this may well be the final momentum that 3D content needs. Also look out for Google and Apple to make a bid for your TV wall space with the perfect integration of the Net and TV. Don’t look now your TV is changing and it’s going to change everything else around it.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.

Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

From HT Brunch, January 8
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First Published: Jan 06, 2012 15:51 IST