LAS VEGAS – In the not-so-distant future, couch potatoes will be waving, pointing, swiping and tapping to make their TVs react, kind of like what Tom Cruise did in the 2002 movie “Minority Report.” That’s the vision of TV manufacturers as they show off “smart TVs.”
The sets will recognize who’s watching and will try to guess what viewers want to see. They’ll respond to more natural speech and will connect with your smartphone in a single touch.
The idea is to make TV watching easier and more pleasant as viewers are confronted with more and more choices — from the hundreds of live TV channels from the cable or satellite provider to online video services such as Netflix Inc., Hulu and Apple’s iTunes. A traditional remote control that lets you flip through channels one at a time suddenly seems inadequate.
But don’t worry about “Big Brother” looking back at you. Manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. will allow cameras to be pointed away.
Gesture recognition still has a long ways to go, and in some demonstrations at this week’s International CES show in Las Vegas, voice commands got lost in translation.
There are some safeguards in place so that the TV wouldn’t misinterpret casual conversations or gestures as actual commands. You’d need to press a button before giving a voice command, and you’d need to stand still for a few seconds and raise one hand before an on-screen cursor would appear for gesture commands.
Paul Gagnon, a TV analyst with research firm NPD Group, said this technology is still nascent.
“Most interaction I’ve had with gesture and voice control … it’s not real great right now,” he said. “Right now, a lot of people in the industry are just trying to explore the possibilities.”