The content world is changing and everyone is scrambling to address it. Currently we are in transition from a broadcast centric model to a demand centric model. Consumers are increasingly expecting and demanding to watch the content they desire how, when, and where they want. This model has been driven forward by the rise of streaming services and is at odds with the traditional broadcast business models of cable television. It is imperative for cable companies to investigate methods to modernize content delivery that better align to consumer desires.
The traditional plastic television remote user experience is a failure in ergonomics. Remotes have an average of 50 buttons - only 5 are used for 90% of the common actions (volume + and -, channel + and -, and on/off). This static user interface is an extension of remote designs first conceived in the 1950’s. While the interface functions well at tuning channels and changing volume it has severe limitations when attempting to navigate the increasing complexities of modern cable user interfaces.
It seems the user experience of the remote control hasn’t changed much.
The right answer to this problem is to get rid of the remote control as a device category - TV’s are for watching things - not doing them. A new interaction model that breaks up navigation and consumption needs to be created.
The smartphone has proven to be an extraordinarily adept navigation device with an incredibly personalized experience. I propose creating a gesture based interface that leverages the technical capabilities of a smartphone to simplify interactions and allows users to lean back and keep their eyes on the TV without needing to look at their smartphone.
Remote UX Analysis
To better understand the structure and user experience of the Verizon FiOS television set top box user interface. I attempted three common tasks and took note of the number of steps required for each as well as the various pain points. It was clear that the interface buttons were segmented into sections dependent upon their functionality. The majority of primary actions were carried out by a small number of buttons on the interface.
1. Finding a program
2. Creating a queue
3. Navigating DVR
Remote App Review
Where a remote control provides a physical interface a smartphone presents a graphical one. While a smartphone lacks some tactile and haptic qualities this can be made up for via the ability to dynamically change the interface contextually.
Most existing remote apps simply emulate the physical remote with skeuomorphic icons which simply does not work. This requires a user to constantly shift focus between the television screen and phone screen to properly hit buttons.
The proper solution to this is reimagining how we think about a remote interface to play to the strengths of a smartphones capabilities. A user should be able to maintain focus on the content on a TV screen and use simple gestures to change the volume or hop channels.
"a smartphone is not a remote"