This is a transcript of a speech I gave at the Westminster eForum in London about the future of television in the home. I thought I should share it…
Viewing in the next 10 years
What I wanted to talk to you is, what about….what is the buzz, for the benefit?
So I’m going to barrel through these slides, super high vision, ultra high definition, are they significant? Is the resolution too high? Yes, the resolution is generally too high for super high vision, it serves no purpose within the home to have super high vision in the home, it’s really useful for public presentations. Too much bandwidth, it would take a heck of a lot to compress down very high resolution images and putting the networks under strain, even in 10 years. So it’s no use in the home particularly, but for archive and public presentation purposes it is.
Fibre optics to the home. It competes with cable, with reach and I am talking about dedicated fibre, not a hybrid fibre network such as virgin has, which is a mixture of cable and fibre; it provides a super fast infrastructure for delivering content, generally it’s point to point and there’s a great deal of connections that can be made here. But, it’s an expensive goal. As Virgin pointed out it cost them over….nearly £13 billion to do half of the UK and our telecoms incumbent, BT, is also investing billions of pounds in upgrading their networks, is there going to be some compromise that is going to happen along the way, are we going to achieve the likes of the apartment blocks in Korea with 1 gigabits per second? I was there yesterday, it is very fast connections over there.
3D, can we get rid of the glasses? Presently it’s very difficult, the systems that don’t use glasses present quality and an experience that I find not suitable for the home, you have to sit in a fixed position and not move your head very well. Can we have truth really, can we have depth, can we move around, can we look at the back? Yes there are technologies that are coming along for that, the present technologies that are listed are a bit strange. Do people really care about 3D, yes there are a great deal of number of people who love to watch Avatar in the cinema. Personally, and I know that there’s a couple of people in the audience here, who are not that fussed about 3D and it will take a long time for 3D to really take off.
Humax is a working participant and the first supplier of boxes for the German system, in partnership with Astra, called HD Plus, using a technology called Hybrid Broadband TV, it’s actually just a browser in a box, but there’s also the implementations by traditional CE vendors. There’s Canvas coming along which Humax is also a partner in. There’s Google TV, there’s Apple TV.
Who is best to keep control over the user experience? Is it the consumer, but in the end who is going to provide these facilities? Is Canvas the best…..Are the people of Canvas the best people to decide what the user experience should look like? The BBC and the people of Canvas are very well qualified to, but equally is Sky qualified to define the user experience for you?
An interesting technology that I have been learning about recently is this work that has been going on in the US and it’s also going to be deployed in Holland which is actually about shifting the television back, shifting the set top box away, throwing away the set top box. These TVs that are coming along from the likes of Sony, LG, Panasonic, they are all coming now with DLNA which is a home networking technology, what if they could get their content via home networking? And I am talking content via home networking, not internet connections.
So a traditional home gateway looks like this, so we have our set top box in our lounge, we have our set top box in our living room and we have our display, if we are having a pay television operation. But what if we could get rid of that, what if we could get rid of the set top box? Now this sounds strange, I’m a set top box manufacturer, but I am not here to talk about my business, I am talking about your business. What if we move that gateway away from your living room or put it away where you don’t need to worry about it, and Pace have done some work on this for a while now, but this is really starting to become a prevalent thing. Can we have one central recorder, one central PVR, we can set the things we want to record in our living room and then we can go up to our bedroom and continue watching them. Can we find a way to have that flexibility that we can move around? I can be anywhere I want and watch the content that I want, when I want and I can interrupt my viewing and come back to it. I also don’t have to worry about running out of the facility to record. You know if you have got a PVR, you will know that you book two things to record then anything else is a conflict. So this could be a six tuner PVR, an eight tuner PVR, sixteen tuner PVR, you never have to worry about missing content ever again, and you never have to worry about where it is because it’s always available to you, wherever you are in the home.
So devices will get more connected and inter-connected, flexibility and mobility. Consumers will get more content and more flexibility. Who’s leading the consumer and where is the question that comes along with this. TV is not the same business as it was. Yes, overlays are a big issue for the broadcasters, they have put investment in, if somebody puts an overlay on them, but in the end business models have had to change. PVR has been very disruptive and dangerous to the broadcasters because it has damaged advertising revenues because people can fast forward through adverts, but is that a bad thing. Okay, yes, it has meant the broadcasters have suffered, some of them, but actually they have got to find new ways of doing business, as we all have to find new ways of doing business when the old ways go. And a seamless blending of broadcast and broadband, this is what I love about Canvas, and this is what I think that Canvas separates itself from other hybrid architectures. Other hybrid architectures are about – I’ll have IPTV and I’ll have my broadcast and I can press a button and switch between the two of them. No, there is a need to integrate these things, so that I just press a button and I don’t know where I am, I don’t care where I am, this is what the consumer wants, the consumer doesn’t want to care about what they have, making things easier for those who don’t care.
So what do consumers need? Almost any HD TV can be adapted to support connected TV. I am the Chairman of the UK’s Connected TV Devices Group within the DTG helping to define these things with my colleagues from broadcast and manufacturing. Future iDTV’s will adapt to support new services. The previous generation of connected TVs were fixed, they had these fixed applications but we are building the core blocks to allow growth and adaptation and 3D TV is a physical change to the TV. We will not see a quick move to 3D TV dominating the entire environment, it will take 15 or 20 years, but we will see a natural progress to reduce the impact on consumers. And tech fatigue in the end is not a problem. Look, it’s only television, don’t worry, we’ll all get over it, we’ll just enjoy it.