Gadget of the week - smart televisions

technology-icon'Smart' televisions are a hot topic at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. We think they're important because they will change consumer behaviour by bringing the Web into the lounge room.

'Smart' televisions are a hot topic at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. We think they're important because they will change consumer behaviour by bringing the Web into the lounge room.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a four-day orgy of new gadgetry that sets agendas for the coming year. About 140,00 people attend, which strains even Las Vegas’ capacity for hotel rooms.

In 2011 the show’s big sensation was tablet computers, as several manufacturers lined up to take on the iPad.

So far, the 2012 event has generated a lot of excitement about ‘Smart’ TVs that can go online and deliver on-demand video.

Both of these features have been around for a while, but are pretty clunky. Your Editor owns a Sony Bravia that can stream lots of content, but its interface is far from elegant and once a list of content goes beyond a handful of items navigation becomes very frustrating. Web-enabled TVs have suffered from the average remote controller’s utter uselessness for typing.

Smart TVs are getting this stuff right. Samsung has made a splash at the show with a range of TVs that use what it calls “Motion Control, Voice Control and Face Recognition commands” to drive its features. The set can also can go online, download apps, make video Skype calls (there’s a camera built in) and even link to cloud services that store your photos. LG talked up TVs that can run apps and offer next-generation remotes that offer voice recognition, something it calls "Magic Gesture" and a new wheel controller.

Smart_TV

The interface for Samsung's new Smart TVs

Samsung has even created interactive fitness programs it says “… allows users to connect their Wi-Fi enabled scale to manage their weight goals and use the TV’s built-in camera to create a virtual mirror to monitor their exercise routines. They can also connect Samsung TV to a Samsung smartphone via a mobile Fitness app.”

Here at My Business we’re not sure if we want a TV to tell us if our bum looks big in that. But we do think it will be worth getting a demo of these boob tubes once they land in stores, sometime later in 2012, because bringing an easy-to-use web-connected device into the lounge room is a pretty big step forward. We can imagine families shopping together, instead of one or two people hunched around a PC.

Until a few hundred thousand Smart TVs land in Australian lounge rooms your business probably won’t need to think about them. But once there’s a decent installed base we expect web consultancies will start to emphasise the importance of getting your site ready to take advantage of opportunities it presents. The fact that these sets also display high definition content and 3D also means you may need to rethink your approach to marketing material – a simple YouTube clip may not cut it once consumers have these dynamic devices in their homes.

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