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A Stroke of Genius for Smart TVs: Add Voice to Your Remote Control

Introduction

In this age of the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices have been getting smarter. Smartphones, smart homes, smart cars, smart appliances, and even smart TVs now exist. But the last example raises the question: If my TV is so smart, why is my remote control so dumb?

 

Anyone who has tried to use a remote control with a smart TV to more than simply watch their favorite program has probably been frustrated with the experience. Setting up Internet connectivity can be daunting, let alone trying to enter a URL address in the browser. Granted, some TVs allow a keyboard to be used or even a smart phone, but none of these connections are simple or convenient. Today's remotes are hauntingly reminiscent of when PCs had the “CRobot Embarassed” prompt. The jump to friendly, GUI-based operating systems was a giant leap ahead for most PC users, and it is time for remotes to follow suit. The question is: how can this be accomplished?

 

Remote Control Voice Recognition Benefits

Adding voice recognition to a TV remote control changes the entire user experience. Without voice recognition most current remotes present frustrating exercises in button pushing, transmit delays, lost progress, painful spelling exercises, and so on. A dark room worsens this situation.

 

With a voice-enabled remote the interaction speeds up. The user simply activates the remote and speaks a command which can fall completely outside the TV’s menu structure. For example, from watching a program, a user could press an activation button on the remote and say something like, “Record the program ‘Big Bang Theory’ tonight at 7 pm.” That is all. In the old paradigm, the user had a long, arduous process to accomplish this goal. With voice, it is only a few steps: 1) activate the remote, 2) speak the command, and 3) confirm the action.

 

How Does Voice Recognition Work

 

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Fig: The Journey from User Voice to Cloud to User Action

 

 

The processing power and data required to perform voice recognition is beyond the scope of most remote controls, TVs, and even smartphones. Voice recognition in smartphones today is actually accomplished through cloud computing. This process has seen considerable progression in recent years and leaders in voice recognition include companies like Nuance Communications, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many others. When we use Siri, Google or Alexa for voice control, these applications digitize our voice and send it over the Internet where it is processed for a response. The complexity of this exchange is illustrated in the figure above. 

 

A key factor enabling voice commands in the TV market is the fact that smart TVs are already connected to the Internet and can leverage this considerable infrastructure.

 

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