Cable Show 2011: Notes on Remotes

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Chicago — Your TV remote may someday be — or perhaps is already today — an app on an iPad or smartphone.

But there are still sparks of innovation happening in the traditional remote control category.

At the show here, Philips was showing off uWand, a remote control pointing technology the company will license to TV operators.

The uWand system uses an infrared camera to determine the direction a user is pointing, like the Nintendo Wii controller, general manager Navin Natoewal said. That makes controlling the cursor on the screen more natural than a gyroscope-based pointing device, he said — and I have to agree, after a brief test of uWand.

The uWand components add about $5 to the cost of the remote, according to Natoewal. That would result in more than double the price MSOs are typically willing to spend on a remote.

But that additional cost is paid back quickly because the pointing capabilities increase VOD and game buy rates, according to a consumer survey conducted by Philips: Video-on-demand and interactive games consumption among uWand users increased 17% and 20% respectively, compared with those using traditional TV remotes.

Meanwhile, Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) this week announced that Cox Communications has selected UEI to supply its next-generation universal remote control.

The customized remote control includes many new features tailored for Cox’s Trio HD interactive program guide, such as a “user” button that provides one-click access to the Triopersonalized profiles.

In addition, UEI announced a new remote, “Champ” (pictured at right), whose key features include a simplified layout with fewer keys and an easier universal TV setup.

UEI said the Champ was developed based on usability research conducted for the company by Dr. Robert Youmans, professor of psychology at California State University at Northridge. (Side note: Could I apply for a doctorate in TV?)

For example, the Champ has contoured keys that are supposed to make it comfortable to hold and use. It’s expected to begin shipping late summer 2011.


Click here for complete coverage of Cable Show 2011.


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