the Good and the Bad

The user experiences (UX) that make up the foundations to TV and PC capabilities include: [1]the keyboard and [2]the mouse for the PC; [3]the remote for the TV; and [4]the joypad for game consoles. These functionalities have laid the foundation for what the Smart TV input device hopes to converge.

[1] Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard has been the oldest, friendliest, best character input method thus far. It’s been there since the days of the MS DOS and has maintained its assets through the transition to the GUI. Yet, due to its size, the carrying characteristic is impractical and will not allow the keyboard to comfortably settle in in the living room.

Many solutions have been attempted:

resizing the keyboard into a mini-keyboard, folding the keyboard in half, or making it out of silicon and rolling it up. There’s even a laser projected virtual keyboard. Most of these are indeed creative and actually function pretty well, but all these methods require a hard surface that the living room does not naturally provide, and therefore, have also failed to enter the living room setting.

[2] Mouse

The mouse was responsible for the shift from MS DOS to the GUI for computers. This revolution ultimately led to computers actually being “personal” to the common consumers and not just for business productivity. And like the keyboard, the mouse has become a standard to all computers. Through a simple pointer on the PC monitor, the mouse has enabled even the lightest of users to communicate with their computer through simple single-click, double-click, and drag n’ drop commands.

But because the mouse requires a hard surface, users can’t move far from their desktops or comfortably sit back in their chair. The users are ultimately stuck crouched over their desktop area leading to numerous symptoms such as the visual display terminal (VDT) syndrome, also known as the ‘turtle neck’ syndrome. Unexpectedly, once a hero for the advancement of computers, the mouse has ended up as the criminal to the user’s comfortability.

[3] Remote Control

It’s a very simple way to control most the electronic products in your house, whether it’s the remote control for the TV, audio system, probably another one for your cable box/set top box. Let me say it again, the remote controller is a very simple input device… that is if you wanted to continue to control each electronic with separate remotes. The simpleness of the remote control makes it so that the scope of its application is very limited to the single electronic it controls, therefore you need a multitude of controllers to manage all the electronics. Everyone that has a TV also has a cable/set-top box, which means that everyone starts off with a minimum of two controllers. DVD, CD, game consoles, audio system, even air condition and fans nowadays… There are remote controls all over the place. It just makes life tiring, even just to look at.

[4] Joypad

The joypad was created to support the gaming experience: Nintendo, Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox, and so on. With a joypad, users can control a wide variety of inputs to create a diverse world, enabling infinite possible scenarios through the single controller. And above all, it’s a proven fact that it’s the most ergonomic, comfortable input device there is in regards to relaxing on the couch with such a diverse set of inputs. It’s such a well made device that the span for its audience reaches from toddlers to adults. However, the joypad, like the remote control, might be comfortable, but it only pertains to that specific (game) content that is being played. In an attempt to expand, the gaming market tried to integrate the joypad to online/internet games, but in comparison to the functionalities of the mouse and keyboard, the game controller came second.

These are the good and the bad points of the input devices that make up the UX that will be incorporated with Smart TV. We are headed towards a multi-media scenario, and we’re not just speaking to the early-adopters; this multi-media scenario will be commonplace for anyone with a TV. With this popular multi-media environment emerging so rapidly, there are increasing amounts of content across the network and are becoming more wide spread. This essentially leads to more inputs required to meet the needs of consumers, and in turn, makes new content difficult to index in a comfortable way. To adapt to a more comfortable environment, there must be a new paradigm (consumers are anticipating a new paradigm) with the versatility to adapt to such an environment. To have a smooth transition, we must rely on consumer experiences from the past to seamlessly bridge the multiple platforms together. Making things painstakingly obvious, without this bridge we will never be able to cross over. That bridge is the all-in-one input device that will have to emerge, just like the mouse for PCs and touch for phones.

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  1. [4] Y? Q&A « the common consumer - July 24, 2011

    […] characters efficiently, a keyboard must be incorporated. However, as explained previously in “the Good and the Bad,” the handheld characteristic is impractical. Even the users that are used to the QWERTY keyboard […]

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