• About Us
  • Blog
  • Basket
  • Account
  • Sign In


The Mad World Of Set Top Boxes – Part 2

Published on Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mad World Of Set Top Boxes – Part 2

The remote is already in your pocket

At IBC 2013 in Amsterdam, there are a small but significant number of exhibitors focused on remote controls. The most significant innovation is the use of Bluetooth to replace infrared and placing a microphone into the control to enable voice control of the TV and set top box. Some vendors have also turned the control into a pointing device such that it can be used to move an on screen cursor. Other than these, the remote control doesn't look like its set to change.

Many of the set top box vendors are using operating systems and browser technology from the mobile industry and coupling it together with remote controls. However the user experience when it comes to anything other than controlling the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and changing channels is very poor.

Traditional Remotes Dominate at IBC

Those using traditional remote controls rely on numeric keypads to enter text, all without the use of T9 predictive text to speed up entry. An almost unusable experience results irrespective of any other cool technology involved.

Virtual TV Keyboard

Pointer controlled virtual keyboards similar to those used on touch screen tablets are only marginally better as it takes time to move the pointer and ensure it's over the correct key.

Voice control works well when the command or text is simple, but very poor when the phrase is complex as there's no keyboard to edit the mistake.

With so much talk of the second screen and multiscreen, so far I've not seen anyone making use of the touch screen tablet and mobile devices we already have to control the set top box. Such devices are already being used to enter text messages and navigate the web. They're ideally suited to control the TV and set top box. They already have a WiFi or data connection. The set top box is also connected to the same data connection and in home networks will appear as devices on the same local network. Therefore there's no new hardware needed to link them together.

High Level Architecture

The set top box is already powerful enough to decode high quality content and connect to the web. Therefore why not add a light weight web server to the set top box and enable mobile phones and tablets to connect to it to in place of the remote control? There would be an immediate improvement in the user experience for more complex tasks involving text. Further the cost of the hardware would reduce as a separate remote control and the infrared or Bluetooth components on the device could be removed entirely.

A method of linking the set top box to the mobile phone or tablet would be required. However, this could be as simple as assigning a default unique name to the set top box. Any device connected to the same WiFi, or with the right security technology internet, could then connect to the set top box. The process would be identical to that used to control WiFi or home broad band routers today.

Home WiFi Router Style Setup

Once the link has been established so much more would then be possible. The EPG and related information would be available to browse in parallel with video content on the TV. Web sites and related information included in the EPG data could be accessed. If metadata were included within the video this could be used to drive additional content, most obviously links to advertisers web sites during commercials which could be opened on the TV, mobile phone or tablet. The problem of synchronising second screen content would then be solved without requiring any new hardware or technology.

Of course 51Degrees.mobi can provide the technology to make the embedded web server work with any mobile phone or tablet.

Cisco are already demonstrating this kind of interconnectivity in the IBC Future Zone. However as all the technology exists today the future, in this area at least isn't very far away.

Maybe I'm missing something but it seems to me the solution to two major problems facing broadcasters and set top box businesses is already sitting in their pocket.

Comments (0)

Author: James Rosewell

Categories: Opinion

Tags: TV , IBC , Set Top Box

James Rosewell

James Rosewell

Other posts by James Rosewell
Contact author



.NET 2013 2014 4G 51Degrees 5G A.C.Roma A7 ABI Acer Adtech Affiliate Marketing Afilias Alcatel Amazon AMP Analysis Analytics Android Android 5.0 Lollipop Android Kitkat Android Lollipop Android Media Stick Apache API Apple Apple TV Archos Asha Asian Market ASP.NET Asus Australia Big Data Black Friday Blackberry Blink Browser C C# Case Study CeBIT CES Chrome Cloud CMS combinations Comparison Competition CoolPad COTW Cron CSS3 Data Data Blog Data File Data Model Daydream Denver Design Desire Eye Desktop Detection Developers Device Device Data Device Detection Device Intelligence Device Popularity Device property Device Types Device Use DeviceAtlas Display dmexco DoCoMo Doogee DotNetNuke Download Drupal Email EReader E-Reader Ericsson Evaluation Event Examples EXPLAY Rio Facebook feature Firefox Firefox OS Fly Foundation Framework France Galaxy S3 Galaxy S5 Galaxy Tab A Galaxy Tab A 8.0 Galaxy Tab A 9.7 Germany git repositories Global Google Google Daydream GSMA HAProxy Hardware Hisense HTC HTC ONE MAX HTC OS HTML5 HTTP HTTP Headers Huawei HUAWEI. UPDATE HUDL Huwaei IBC Icemobile Prime 4.0 IE IFA IIS Image Optimiser Image Optimizer India Infographic Ingeniux Internet usage iOS iOS 7 iOS 8 ipad iPhone iPhone 6 IsEmailBrowser IsWebApp Italy Japan Java Javascript Jolla Kentico Keynote Kindle Kindle Fire Kindle Fire HD Leagoo Lenovo LG Location Log File Analysis LTE Lumia m.dot macOS Map Memory Meta Data Mi 4S Micromax Microsoft Miia Style Mobile Mobile Analysis Mobile Analytics Mobile Devices Mobile Marketing Mixer Module Motorola MVC4 MWC MWC 2017 MWC16 MyPhone Native Native Apps NET New Release News News Letter Nexus Nexus 6 Nexus 9 NFC NGINX Nokia Nokia 3310 Non-Mobile NVIDIA Omate On7 OnePlus 5 Opera Opera Mini Operating System Optimisation OS OSX 10.10 OTA Panasonic Patent PC Pebble Performance phablet phone PHP Poland Presentation Press Release Price Band PRIV programmatic PS4 Publishers Python QMobile QR Codes Redirection Research Reseller Responsive Images Responsive web design RESS Review reviews RIM Ringmark RTB RWD Safari Samsung Scala ScientiaMobile Screen Screen resolution Screen Size SEO Server Server-side optimisation Set Box Set Top Box Sharepoint Shark 1 SHIFT phones Sitecore Sitecore version 9 SLUSH Smart TV Smartphone Smartphones Smartwatches Snapdragon Sony Sony Xperia Spain Swedish Beers Symbian Tablet Tablets Tesco Testing Tips Top 5 TOTW TV UDS UK Umbraco Update updates US User Agent UserAgent User-Agent Vendors Version 3 Video VoLTE VR Wearable Web Web Apps Web content management WebKit WebMatrix White Paper Widgets Widnows WiFi Wiko Wileyfox Windows Windows Phone WURFL Xbox XBox One Xiaomi Xperia Xperia z Yosemite Z10 ZenFon 2 ZOPO ZTE