The future of TV


Viewers can watch programmes wherever they want, with living room screens often neglected in favour of laptops and smartphones. But traditional TV is going nowhere, as those behind YouView, TiVo, Adsmart and auto-3D all hope to prove.
Gone are the bad old good old days, wherein television dominated everyone’s evening schedule. But while many forms of media that date back more than three decades are in serious danger of being outmoded, the TV is about to bite back. This is because some of the most exciting developments in broadcast history have been launched recently, or are currently waiting for the final go ahead.
Perhaps the most significant change set to take place comes from the ever-boundary pushing boffins at BSkyB. The brains behind Adsmart hope to finally put an end to the quandary ‘how do you stop viewers channel surfing during a commercial break?’ Despite the complex technology involved the answer to this problem is pretty simple: deliver personalised adverts to the audience’s set top box based on past viewing habits, home address, age and family size.
So from next year it’s hoped that young professionals can at last be spared endless adverts for SAGA insurance, while the family of four will watch 30 seconds of Disneyland holidays, or a new people carrier commercial. It all sounds impressive, though naysayers have already voiced concerns over invasion of privacy, with the broadcaster’s claims that its 10million plus subscribers will only receive personalised ads if they opt in offering little reassurance.
Of course Virgin’s TiVo box, an incarnation of the popular US digital recording system, works in a similar way. And, if market trends are anything to go off, by next year we should be seeing a lot more of these in British homes. By scouring every available network for content the clever device will shortlist programmes and movies based on what you have previously viewed, with each box able to differentiate between up to eight profiles (mum, dad, son, daughter, grandma, granddad, dog, cat…)

Sticking with Virgin Media, one advantage its subscribers have over their Freeview counterparts is catch up TV pre-installed. But this might not last much longer, as YouView is just around the corner. Public consultation finishes on November 4th, so all being well the UK will have one of the world’s most advanced TV systems in place by 2012. In short the invention puts BBC iPlayer, 4OD and catch up services from all other terrestrial networks in one place, boasting on demand content, recording functionality, and real time TV without the monthly bill.

And, finally, the last major change we’re literally on the cusp of comes in the form of autostereoscopic screens. Confused? Well, how about if we use the slightly less techy description- auto-3D. This is set to hit just about everything from Sony VAIO laptops to the multiplexes, but all commentators are pointing to Toshiba as the market leader, with the 55??? L2 TV currently set to become the UK’s first 3D television that doesn’t require glasses when it finally hits stores (supposedly before Christmas).
We could go one. Predictions from the tech community include everything from holographic projections to 4D- wherein a 3D movie is supplemented with physical effects, be that wind, rain, or a pungent smell. But for now we figure this is enough to capture anyone’s imagination. It also proves the 20th Century’s most defining medium is set to enjoy further success still, providing the manufacturers remember we can’t all spend £8000 on a brand new TV…