Watching the coverage of the latest gadgets coming in from the CES in Las Vegas, one of the key trends seem to be ‘smart TVs’. However, what exactly a ‘smart TV’ is, and what impact they could have on the way we interact with our televisions is still up for debate. One TechCrunch reporters at CES asked representatives of Samsung, Sony and LG how they would define what a smart TV is today;
"Samsung defined Smart TVs as sets that can run apps, have web browsing capability, smart search (meaning easy ways to locate content), and social media connectivity.
Sony defined a Smart TV as one that is “connected” for content consumption (e.g apps, entertainment network, etc) but also for interaction with social networks. Additionally, internal or external integration with other content systems (like Google TV) is a must.
LG defined a Smart TV as one that is interactive, connected to the internet and capable of running apps."
From this list there appears to be an agreement that smart TVs must be connected to the internet and be capable of running apps. Samsung and Sony also note the importance of social media connectivity. By these definitions we can expect to see a shift in the way that we interact with televisions which, up to now, have represented a one way conversation - they put out the programmes, we watch them. However, the emergence of smart TVs may result in the user having a far greater input into what they watch above simply selecting which channel to view.
Smart TVs that connect with our Facebook accounts could remind us that programmes we have ‘liked‘ on Facebook are about to start, recommend other programmes we might like based on those likes, pull in recommendations based on what our friends are watching or highlight programmes that feature brands we have interacted with online. It could also connect to a YouTube account and make a note of our viewing habits online then recommend TV programmes we may be interested in viewing. For almost every online social account there is an imaginable tie-in to connected TVs.
These interactions, of course, could work both ways, so TV viewing habits could lead to recommendations of brands or people you may be interested in following, or YouTube clips that may interest you. For example, if your TV found that you tend to watch fashion programmes, it could recommend that you like certain fashion brands, such as the brands that are ‘most liked’ by your friends.
These changes would make a stronger social presence all the more important. Investing in the development of an engaged community fed with relevant content will have even greater implications. Engaging new and existing Facebook fans, could result in reaching a far greater audience and new potential customers. Some of these changes may seem quite extreme, but as ‘smart’ TVs become ‘smarter’, as well as becoming the norm for living room upgrades, they may come about sooner rather than later.