Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

28.9.2018 Fairfax Tech Column 114

I am sure the major talking point in households around Australia last night was the impact that the removal of Dasha and Emily would have on the dynamic of The Honey Badger and his four remaining female suitors. Over a million metropolitan viewers tuned in to Channel Ten to see the next chapter unfold.

I am not that big a fan of so-called reality shows. What I do find interesting is how people are viewing their television. Tablets are used in the kitchen to watch shows while cooking evening meals. Smartphones are held in hands while on public transport or waiting in queues. Notebooks sit on desks while students are supposedly studying. And there is still that old-fashioned concept of a TV hanging on a wall.

Despite the plethora of ways to consume your TV and the anecdotal information about the declining percentage of viewers using a television set, the results surprised me. The results show that over eighty per cent of viewing is still undertaken with a traditional TV. There is still some life in this technology yet and we are seeing continuing innovation with this technology. And that is not just a number reflective of viewing of traditional free to air TV channels. Even traditional mobile and tablet viewing platforms such as YouTube and Netflix are generating over seventy per cent of their streams on TV sets.

The TV has a storied history.

John Logie Baird first demonstrated the transmission of a television signal in 1927 and by 1928 the Baird Televisions Development Company completed the first trans-Atlantic televisions transmission. As with any technology, we have moved through a number of advances including early TVs in the sixties using a Cathode Ray Tube through to flat screen LCD TVs (a breakthrough technology) followed by Plasma (a breakthrough technology) and LED (not surprisingly another major breakthrough) and OLED (I don’t need to mention that this was the final breakthrough – until the next one!). Throw in digital television and High Definition (HD) and streaming and on-demand services through to 4K and even 8K and you start to get the feeling that the television market is significant enough that major organisations throw some serious money at innovation in this sector.

Despite the fact that we have heard the term ‘Smart TV’ for some years now, they haven’t really been that smart. In the past a Smart TV really just meant it had an Internet connection and maybe a couple of apps.

Well I can announce today that we are finally at the spot where we truly have a Smart TV. LG has just announced a partnership with Google that will truly deliver you a Smart TV. The remote is still used in this first iteration – but not as you would expect. The remote control is now used as a microphone. By holding the microphone button on the remote and speaking into the remote, you can ask the TV all sorts of questions. Some relate to actions on the TV – change the channel; adjust the volume; change to Netflix; change inputs. But this TV can go further. You can ask the TV for news headlines or traffic updates or a suggestion for the best place to buy a coffee! It is truly an extension of an Internet connected world. As mentioned, you still need your remote at this stage but don’t expect it to be too far away before you simply talk direct to your TV – and as the battle for the smart home continues, an integrated smart home will eventually allow any device to pick up your instruction for any action. We may not be as far away as some people would like from the reality of HAL from Space Odyssey. Who knows what we will be asking our home to do next. “Smart TV, write my Fairfax column this week.” Have I actually written this column or did I just ask my connected home to do it???

Mathew Dickerson