By Michael Lantz, CEO, Accedo
When will the viewing quality be â€œgood enoughâ€?
Already 15 years ago, with the emergence of the first mass market plasma TVs, industry pundits have suggested that consumers will not require better resolution or larger screens. Every new generation of TVs have proven them wrong, where HD ready, HD, Full HD and now 4K screens have all created new consumer demand. Content is being produced for these new screens and while the UX hasnâ€™t kept up to speed with the content production, it is clear that significant investments are made to make use of the new technologies.
My belief is that weâ€™re seeing the final generation of mass-market resolution enhancements. The simple reason is that while technology will continue to evolve, consumer homes will not. A successful mass-market acceptance of a screen technology requires a measurable difference in experience in a normal living room. The fact is that for normal living rooms, a future 100 inch TV with 4K resolution is about as good as youâ€™ll ever need.
The user experience is not the same as the video
Now, while I can argue that a 4K 100 inch TV will be good enough for most practical home use, we need to clarify that the UX is not the same as watching video. The UX is the interaction interface that consumers see when they are using the TV actively. This means everything from volume change and channel displays to program guides and third party apps. These user experiences are normally not being implemented in 4K at the moment and there are some definite reasons for this.
First of all, itâ€™s a matter of consumer attention. A video in 4K resolution will seem crisper, clearer and brighter to the consumer, but the actual content is normally not more advanced than for a normal video. You see the same movie with the actors being the same size in relation to the screen as you do with a lower resolution. The main difference is sports, where we have seen certain innovative use cases, for example where the entire football playing field is visible in 4K resolution. For a UX, it is clearly possible to have four times as many buttons as on a Full HD UX and the buttons are still readable. While there may theoretically be some applications where this is attractive, in most cases, consumers will just be confused with too many interaction points on a screen at the same time.
Furthermore, we will for the foreseeable future have both standard TVs and 4K TVs on the market. Even if we assume that all STBs, Smart TVs or game consoles would support a 4K interface, the video provider will need to provide services for multiple devices at the same time. If the 4K UX will not be noticeably different for most consumers, it will be waste of limited budgets and focus will be on a standard HD interface, most commonly 720p.
The future TV UX will be truly dynamic
When asking consumers about their views of TV UX, most of them consider it dated and difficult to use. While mobile phones have evolved significantly over the past 10 years, we still see essentially the same interaction paradigms in TV. We have seen numerous experiments with new interaction paradigms and design patterns, but with limited customer acceptance.
My view is that the secret to the future TV UX is not to invent a radically new way of interacting with the TV, but instead to simplify the experience and instead use advanced technology to serve dynamic user experiences to consumers based on behavioural analysis, personal configurations and editorially configured business rules. Itâ€™s not about adding more features or functions in a TV UX but to provide the relevant features and functions to the right consumers exactly when they need them. Application management tools like Accedo AppGrid are rapidly gaining market acceptance and while they can be used for any device platform, itâ€™s clear that platforms with more limited interaction possibilities will gain more from an adaptable, truly dynamic user experience.
Michael Lantz will be joining a panel discussing Immersive TV at the Connected TV World Summit on Wednesday 24th June.