Light Reading

Samsung Gives Smart TVs the Finger

Mari Silbey
12/23/2013
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The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is shaping up to be a battleground for the rapidly evolving TV user interface (UI). In the latest news, Samsung has announced several UI updates for its 2014 Smart TVs, including a new "finger gesture" that will let viewers change channels, adjust volume, and navigate through content selections with mainly their fingers. A counterclockwise motion will also stop a video in progress or return viewers to a previous screen.

It's not clear if some type of TV remote is required for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC)'s new motion-control feature (a press image suggests that it might be). But the company will clear up any questions when it demonstrates the new UI at next month's CES confab in Las Vegas.

Samsung also announced expanded voice control for its 2014 Smart TV product line. The number of countries supported with the Voice Interaction service will jump from 11 to 23. Samsung is also adding improvements to the voice search function, while also decreasing the number of voice commands required to change channels.

CE companies and service providers alike are hard at work trying to improve the TV UI. Last month Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) picked up Israeli chip company PrimeSense Ltd. , which owns the technology that powers Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s motion-controlled interface for the original Xbox Kinect. And Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) recently filed a patent application for a process that would allow users to perform gestures within an electromagnetic field to control both TV and home appliance functions. (See: Apple Gestures at Microsoft.)

Service providers like Comcast and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) typically don't use CES to promote new TV advancements, but manufacturers like Samsung, Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) always show up at the event in force. LG recently revealed that it will showcase a new TV set with the webOS operating system at the show.

So it looks like most of the big TV bets will be on the user interface in Vegas next month.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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jdbower
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jdbower,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/1/2014 | 11:26:43 AM
Re: Finger Jam?
My Samsung Smart TV came with two remotes, one standard rubber-button model and another that is largely just a touchpad and a few physical buttons. I can see this implemented on the touchpad remote pretty easily, but there's also a camera on the TV that could be used.

Personally I prefer the mostly dumb TV Chromecast model - let the phone/tablet/etc that I already have on me be the remote I can use for browsing to content. It just needs an easier method for any phone on the WiFi network to be the remote (this can be done, but it involves opening up a Chromecast app on the new phone today).
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/30/2013 | 2:38:15 PM
Remotes nevermore
Hopefully, this will be another advancement in getting rid of the remote...where did I put mine again? :)
MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/24/2013 | 3:15:14 AM
Re: Finger Jam?
Having to wear or pickup something like say glove or fingertip device would be less convenient than say a motion activated control sensor placed on the tv pointed at you.  I know the technology is out there, but I'm still not used to my TV watching me.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/23/2013 | 8:10:16 PM
Finger Jam?
So, Mari, I'm still trying to figure out how these finger gestures would work. How would the remote control be involved? And if the remotre is still involved, how would finger gestures be any easier than pushing buttons on the remote? 
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