I have to laugh about why and where a remote comes in to play for manufactures. For me I use one remote to change the channels and one to fix the TV ratio depending on the HD film of the program. Music systems aren’t really dealt with any remote except for what I plug into a speaker jack from my iPad or iPhone. But for those that have a million remotes dealing with old technology it would make sense if a number of apps could bundle together to make life a bit easier with a swipe. I tried using an analog kindle today and was completely lost with plastic buttons with the expectation that I knew what they should do.
I’ve never used a Logitech’s Harmony remote but my first reaction is if they’re going with a screen, why not make it an advantage as opposed to trying to stuff it into a small unit that was never meant to have a screen. I can only imagine how fast the batteries would drain. Plus the screen isn’t really improving much if it’s just advancing a selection via up/down & left/right. Of course trying to make a bunch of competitive systems fit together is an interesting challenge. There’s zero incentive for competitors to play nice with each other, and even if they did it would hinder innovation. If someone wanted to expand on an idea no one would buy in to it. There’s no incentive to make things better when you need a ton of companies to agree on anything.
Considering how every media company has tried to lock Goggle out of TV I’m kind of curious to see what happens next. Though it’s interesting to note that you mention Boxee, Apple, Google, Microsoft. The big three of ABC, CBS, NBC are not even considered. For the moment it’s a la carte singles and series. Should be fun to see who figures out how to archive things that become valuable once a viewer wants to see it again after someone tweets about their fav show experience.]]>
As an avid fan of home control/entertainment/interface, I’ve been thinking a lot more about what a computing device like an iPad could mean for this device. It presents an option to move away from the “dumb” remote and towards a contextual, adaptive experience that can not only bubble up more advanced features of a device that often go unused, but can intelligently identify situations/need states that allow for control an entire home.
In may respects, the remote has become a “holy grail quest” when it comes to the end-user gaining control over an increasingly unwieldy and complex digital home. The day-to-day use is just one facet with this device – there’s set-up, fine-tuning, and customization that are completely overlooked because the process is so difficult that users are just glad to have it work and don’t want to mess with it for fear of screwing it up.
Much of the problem is perception/education. When remote controls caught on, they quickly became cost-of-entry for manufacturers – it was a hot feature that consumers had to have. If you didn’t bundle a remote with your TV, you were a step behind your competition. That’s fine for a home that has one or two TVs, but as more devices started popping up (CD players, VHS, DVD, tuner, amp, etc, etc) manufacturers created their own formats/designs – there was never any cross-industry standardization. Sure some best practices did emerge – bi-axial navigation elements, up down cradle buttons, wand-style physical design – but, we’re still very much in the dark ages when it comes to progress on this front.
Even worse, though, was a consumer who’s now left alone to fight a battle in the home of “remote-creep.” I think I read that the average home has seven (7!) separate remotes lying around – all used for different devices. Talk about a design flaw on a massive scale. Sadly, end-users don’t know any better and don’t have many straight-forward, usable options when it comes to unifying the experience. Logitech’s Harmony Remotes is the only brand that comes to mind that’s making more intelligent, unified, and easy to program/use remotes for the typical consumer.
Clearly, there’s a wide open landscape for new solutions, but you’ve got to give it to Harmony for attacking the wider eco-system (one remote to rule them all) rather than one remote to better control one device. Going that route is akin to plugging a leak in a dam that’s about to burst.
But, there’s definitely a massive opportunity for mobile computing devices to take on this challenge/opportunity. Consumer electronics manufacturers have long foregone the incorporation of proper chipsets, software, and interfaces. It’s a massive oversight that’s now costing them as brands born of computers takes over the home/entertainment space (just look at Boxee, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc). Funnily, even these brands aren’t looking at the opportunity to control EVERYTHING, but instead are focusing on just their devices.
All-in-all, it’s a very exciting time to rethink the power of control. But, I urge you to look beyond the interface and consider the end-to-end experience and the potential of what happens when one device/brand experience is the go-to for consumers to feel empowered within their homes.]]>