Fresh Ideas For The Clicker

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CHICAGO — Even as operators rush to turn iPads
into remotes, the humble old remote control is
seeing flickers of innovation.

At the Cable Show this month, Philips Electronics
showed off uWand, a remote-control pointing
technology it is licensing to TV providers.

The uWand system uses an infrared camera
to determine the direction a user is pointing, like
the Nintendo Wii controller. That makes controlling
the cursor on the screen more natural than a
gyroscope-based pointing device, uWand general
manager Navin Natoewal said.

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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)
announced
that Cox Communications has
selected it 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 Trio personalized
profiles.

In addition, UEI announced a
new remote, “Champ,” whose
key features include a simplified layout with fewer
keys and an easier universal TV setup. For example,
the Champ has contoured keys that are supposed
to make it comfortable to hold and use. It’s
expected to begin shipping in late summer 2011.

UEI, trying to bolster its innovation cred, noted
that the Champ was developed based on usability
research conducted for the company by California
State University at Northridge psychology
professor Dr. Robert Youmans.

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