It has been possible for a while now to download an iphone app and using it as remote control for your TV. Examples include Apple TV themselves and Boxee.
These remotes are however slightly different to the remote control we know and love (or hate when it has slipped down the side of the sofa, or the kids have taken the batteries…because they needed them for one of their toys!).
The Boxee iphone app provides a 'pointer' mechanism, in that you can track your finger across the iphone screen and it will direct the movement of a spot cursor on your TV. A nice gimmick you say and perhaps you are right, however one of the main reasons why these companies developed and launched these remote control apps is because it provided an easier way to input text into the search function or sign up function on the TV….have you every tried to type in a long phrase, or your email address using just the remote control…?!
Today, Comcast Labs announced their prototype for a new generation of remote control…the Xfinity remote. It works on the ipad and any other IP enabled devices. This is taking tv remote firmware to the next level by integrating it with other devices.
If you want to read the whole article, you can thanks to those great guys over at Interactive TV Today.
So why is this an exciting new development? I believe it is important to understand as it could set the scene for a number of new developments in the connected home that will become the catalyst we have needed, to understand what the future holds for my 3 favorite buzz words right now - ConnectedTV, SocialTV and the 2 Screen experience...
This is the video from Comcast Labs which demos the Xfinity remote. Read below the video for first thoughts on what opportunities this could have on the digital home of the future...
1. A remote control that is an app on my ipad / netbook / laptop / iphone gives context between the content I am watching on the big screen, and other IP enabled services.
2. You will be able to use this app to browse and search through an epg to find broadcast (linear) and video on demand content.
3. You can choose what content to watch on your big screen directly from the app…a simple touch of the finger will change the channel on your TV.
4. The app could use the content you have chosen to watch on the big screen as context for other related content on your ipad that you might like to snack on. It could become the ultimate tv companion e.g. see other content that relates to what you are watching, or help answer any questions you have relating to what you are watching (think tellylinks.com), join conversations about the content, add comments about the content and share with others, rate and recommend the content to others, buy the suit that the actor is wearing…all directly on your ipad app.
5. You can integrate social networks directly into the interface of the app so you can share and interact with others, whilst also getting recommendations from your friends, or choose to listen to a different commentary on a live broadcast event from one of your favorite social tv presenters.
6. Participative TV shows could have a new kind of format, with a new kind of audience.
7. Advertisers and Sponsors would have a new highly targeted and more personalised format that puts them directly in front of your eyeballs for the duration of the programme / film you are watching…and we wont mind so much because it will have context with what I am watching, but without the intrusion.
8. tCommerce could have a platform for enabling the easiest way for you to complete transactions.
9. You could see and choose which match to watch at Wimbledon ie. tapping into the red button services that broadcasters such as the BBC offer at big events.
Have you come across any other IP based remote control applications?
What other uses and consumer behaviours could these applications drive in the home, on the fingertips of your average coach potato?
Paul Johnson is a writer for Appmarket.tv and founding Director at Montgomery Aston and has been specialising in making sense and acting upon the convergent areas of Media, Communications and Consumer Management for the past 15 years.