Publication Name: CIO
Date: October 2014
Connected TVs are widely discussed to be the new thing in the town. It is a high point for the technology too as it is gaining impact and adoption in the market. Harwinder Singh Jutla, CTO, Tata Elxsi discusses how important is UX for popularizing connected TVs.
Can you discuss briefly the evolution and growing adoption of connected TVs in India?
Adoption of smart TVs in India is debatable and a lot of consumers are just buying smart TV sets because they are the best ones in the shop, rather than specifically because they have this internet portal attached.
Today, if we look at the television industry globally and in India, one can see that televisions are becoming ‘smarter’ even as the displays get flatter. Connected TV is now becoming a mainstream concept – and both, the consumers and the industry, are becoming more aware of the impact it will have on the future of television in India. Higher levels of technology convergence and proliferation of mobile computing platforms would make connected TV the centre of interactivity and a communication hub for the Indian homes.
Cloud computing will also play a major role in accelerating the pace of connected devices to the TV. To maximise the benefits of connected TVs, fast broadband speeds are necessary. This is still a challenge in India and therefore becomes a barrier to full scale adoptions. How this will be resolved (government legislation, service provider, private investors) is still not clear.
How important is UX to this entire ‘app’ experience in connected TVs?
UX is the key for connected TV to popularize because users must be able to easily navigate through the TV interface and understand how to use it. Neglecting UX can result in a sloppy experience that people will not come back to. Developing an interaction-rich experience will drive users back to the smart TV.
Ultimately it increases productivity, increased sales, decreased training and support costs, reduced development time and costs, reduced maintenance costs, and increased customer satisfaction.
One of the significant areas where UX needs to play a part is seamlessly bring together different sources into a cohesive user interface. In a connected TV, the content comes from multiple sources including the broadcast television. The challenge is how to bring all of this together in a seamless manner to give the best user experience.
UX design should be at the core of the technology, because it results in a technology that is designed to be used and enjoyed.
How do you deliver this app experience at Tata Elxsi? How important is the role of IT in the milieu?
Tata Elxsi has been successful in reaching out to content partners and bringing their applications on the TV platform with shorter time-to-market and minimizing the delay in partner’s response on technical and marketing related issues.
The digital future ahead is changing the IT landscape. As we enter the era where the global reach of connected TVs might overtake traditional cable and satellite broadcast. There’s a need to combine creativity and innovation to create user friendly apps on multiple devices and platforms, whether harnessing the power of social media, mobile, interactive experiences or cross-platform digital content creation. Marketing does the research needed to deliver the most suitable need while sales helps bridge the research input by actual interactions with the target customers via consumer insight studies.
Could you share real-life examples based in India and how the current process will impact and fuel the connected TV adoption globally?
We took up the entire process right from consumer research based on Indian market, to complete application development of apps based on spirituality and cookery and hosting and maintenance of these apps. Connected TV has changed the content aggregation, delivery and consumption landscape bringing new players while changing consumption habits and expanding the consumer base to newer levels.
Connected devices like Boxee, Roku, Apple TV, Blu-ray players, Xbox and more recently Hybrid STBs reaped huge success as they enabled users to re-use existing TV sets (millions of HDTV set got sold with LCD, LED technology) with the power of connected world.
The advent of connected TV is proof that technology has changed the television landscape. How does the future look to you?
’Connected TVs’ now called ‘Smart TVs’ were branded by companies such as Samsung and LG. Basically any television that can be connected to the Internet to access streaming media services and that can run entertainment apps, such as on-demand video-rental services, Internet music stations or Web browsers.
Smart TVs has certainly changed the television landscape by offering potential advantages. These Smart TVs have built-in intelligence and an internet connection, via which manufacturers can add other features. This is remarkable.
The point of connected TV is simply that it re-combines into one device the complexity which users currently handle using two devices. The services which support users today in finding the right program or downloading a suitable motion picture from the web now entirely migrate to the TV set.
One of the most significant changes connected TVs bring about is that they allow social interaction between the users. This is in the form of video conferencing, multi-user activities, exchange on views about various programs, and make recommendations to friends, families and other users. On the flip side, this significantly enhances the scope for advertisers also for targeted advertising. This area is actively being pursued by the industry and is still in the early stages of understanding on how best to use this additional revenue stream.