Are consumers ready for television watching back?

Jan 09, 2013 by Rob Lever
Attendees walk through the Panasonic booth during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Panasonic used CES to show its new Viera smart television which can recognize users and create a home screen allow programming tailored for each.

In the new world of technology, television is not just for watching. It is also watching you.

So-called being unveiled this week at the International offer technologies that watch the viewer, in an effort to offer more relevant programming.

The idea may sound eerie to those familiar with 's novel "1984" but people in the industry say this is the next step in the evolution of TV viewing.

Chinese manufacturer TCL unveiled at the show a new TV and set-top box to be sold later this year in the US using the which recognizes who is watching in order to suggest potential programs.

The new TV developed with Marvell Technology Group uses sensors and to determine who is viewing and can offer streamed or live programs which appear to appeal to an individual or family.

"We have developed many innovations to personalize the viewing experience," said Haohong Wang, general manager in the US for TCL, a major global manufacturer which has made TVs under the RCA and Thomson brands.

This offers a "game-changing entertainment experience for consumers around the world that will drive the smart forward at a rapid pace," said Weili Dai, co-founder of Marvell.

Panasonic also used CES to show its new Viera smart television which can recognize users and create a home screen allow programming tailored for each.

Other manufacturers are working on similar technology which take advantage of television over Internet.

This new interactivity opens up possibilities for advertisers who will be able to develop more targeted pitches, but raises some of the same of data collection on the Web.

"The concept is not so much Big Brother as Big Marketer," says Thomas Coughlin of the data consulting firm Coughlin Associates, who is attending the Las Vegas gathering.

"This could be creepy to some of us because it is making use of data in a way that has not been done before."

Coughlin said consumers will want to know where the data is and how it might be shared, and says there also may be questions about security of the data in the cloud.

Rob Enderle, an analyst and consultant with Enderle Group, said this model will become the norm as television gravitates to Internet platforms.

"Increasingly, TVs will know who is watching them and I expect advertisers will know shortly thereafter. This should result in shows and commercials you like more and even better products, but far less privacy."

Stu Lipoff, a fellow at the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, said TV on mobile devices will have similar characteristics, with considerable amounts of data which can be gleaned about viewers.

"The website not only knows you are interested in Chevy, but knows where you are," he said.

James McQuivey at Forrester Research said consumers will accept these privacy tradeoffs if they see an advantage to the new style of television.

"If you ask people, of course they will say no," McQuivey told AFP, while noting that millions have accepted this type of tracing by connecting their TVs to Xbox consoles with Kinect motion detection where "the camera is tracking you all the time."

"This tells me Orwell got it wrong," he said. "Orwell's camera did the bidding of the state and these cameras do your bidding."

But he said companies should be prepared to develop privacy policies to avoid government intervention.

TCL's Wang says, meanwhile, the TV makers are not interested in tracking people and will allow them options.

"We are an equipment company. What we want is to give a good user experience," he said. And if viewers feel uncomfortable with being monitored they don't have to use those features, he said: "They can just turn it off."

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User comments : 21

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Claudius
2.6 / 5 (17) Jan 09, 2013
If I get a new TV with a built-in camera, it will have a little accessory installed, called electrical tape, covering the lens.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2013
User: "Kill all advertisement!"
Is television ready for listening?
dogbert
2.8 / 5 (16) Jan 09, 2013
The real issue is cameras which are not apparent to viewers and which they do not know to cover or turn off.

As usual, these intrusive technologies are being distributed under an "opt out" policy when the user should have to explicitly choose to "opt in".
Jeweller
5 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2013
That would be an unacceptable invasion of privacy.
Claudius
2.2 / 5 (13) Jan 09, 2013
"While he was lost in his thoughts, Winston's body had been performing the exercises routinely. Now he is suddenly startled out of his reverie by the instructress from the telescreen addressing him directly. Shouting at him as "6079 Smith W" the woman tells him to pay more attention and recalls him to the regimented present where each man is a coded number and the telescreens spy on every activity." - 1984
perrycomo
1.6 / 5 (13) Jan 09, 2013
Big brother is watching us . Of course you can opt out , but they can still log all the programs you are watching because we have interactive television . They will just spy on you wether you like it or not . It will go on an on. And then at a sudden moment someone will realize that there is no freedom anymore . Monitoring , monitoring every thing an individual is involved in . There will come a day that they will know when an individual is shitting so they can stop with merchandising till he looks at his tv again .
Tangent2
2.7 / 5 (12) Jan 09, 2013
I will just simply not connect it to the Internet. I run my TV to my PC via HDMI and this serves all my purposes of Internet viewing on the TV. Just because a TV has a LAN jack, doesn't mean you have to use it.

Also, I second the motion to use electrical tape.
dschlink
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2013
"...people in the industry say this is the next step in the evolution of TV NOT-viewing."

FTFY
Cave_Man
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 09, 2013
Electrical tape? LAN is needed for video transmission?

There are tin foil hat people out there (some im sure who used to work in the industry) who claim there are things like light sensors too small to see, they fit in between pixels and with thousands stitched together than can get an image, not through LAN but through your 120V AC line, either passively or directly. I mean with everything that has come out in tech we should all realize nothing is impossible, NOTHING. With enough time everything can be done. Simplistic but if the human imagination counts as a thing and every thing can be done....we are in for a crazy future. I would rather live on a farm than in a factory, we all make our choices some just don't realize what choice they made.
Most people are opting in to being machines in the future and they just don't know it. Carry around a cell phone?
ScooterG
2.3 / 5 (16) Jan 09, 2013
"Are consumers ready for television watching back?"

Consumers are too damned stupid to care. Go to Magic Kingdom and watch the throngs of idiots insert their fingers into a fingerprint scanner.
dan42day
1.7 / 5 (11) Jan 09, 2013
Thank god I'm almost 60 and will most likely be dead in 30 years. Got to live in what was probably the best time on earth! Used to be bummed that I wouldn't get to see the far future, but now I'm mostly glad.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2013
I thought last year's revolutionary 3D tv's were the wave of the future..

What happened to that iFad?

The most important question I have about these new TV's is if Americans will be forced to take off their shoes for inspection before the TV permits them to watch.

VendicarD
2.4 / 5 (8) Jan 10, 2013
ScooTard fears such a corporate controlled neo-fascist state.

"Go to Magic Kingdom and watch the throngs of idiots insert their fingers into a fingerprint scanner." - ScooTard

That is why he so steadfastly opposes the only force able to prevent the formation of the corporate state.

Socialism.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 10, 2013
I thought last year's revolutionary 3D tv's were the wave of the future..

Going by the amount of 3D TVs presented at the latest consumer electronics shows that fad is over.

If I get a new TV with a built-in camera, it will have a little accessory installed, called electrical tape, covering the lens.

I've gotten rid of my TV years ago. There's nothing on worth watching (and the few things that would be interesting are available online in one form or another). If I want a movie I'll buy the DVD.
I've also developed a noteable allergy to advertising (in any form) over the years. Thanks to ad-blocking software that can be handled on the internet.
I can't even imagine going back to a setting where what I want to be doing is interrupted by commercials every 20 minutes. That just seems crazy.
crass
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 10, 2013
Of course the opt-out feature is just a ploy to get the device into as many homes as possible before the opt-out becomes locked-in or permanently switched-on by court order in the interest of public safety.
VendicarD
4 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2013
Same here. I dumped my TV 13 years ago when "reality tv" came in and the IQ of programming went negative.

"I've gotten rid of my TV years ago." - Antialias
Claudius
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 10, 2013

I've gotten rid of my TV years ago. There's nothing on worth watching (and the few things that would be interesting are available online in one form or another). If I want a movie I'll buy the DVD.


I haven't watched TV programming in over 8 years. It isn't just not worth watching, it's repulsive. I use my TV as a second display for my computer, and use it to watch documentaries and movies. And when I get a new TV with a camera on it, it will have electrical tape on the lens.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (7) Jan 12, 2013
I wouldn't be opposed to program selections geared to my viewing habits if that meant that those program options are selected not just because they are pay-per-view, but somehow I doubt that nobody who actually decided to implement these technologies actually had the ideal world in mind when offering them to us.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Jan 12, 2013
So-called smart TVs being unveiled this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show offer technologies that watch the viewer, in an effort to offer more relevant programming.


What troubles me most is that someone/something else would be deciding the programming that I should find "relevant".

In fact, "programming" is starting to take on a whole new meaning. I'm thinking that it's the viewer and not the TV that the term applies to at this point.
BSD
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 13, 2013
I don't have a television, it is a waste of time and money. Smart TV is a paradoxical term, the electronics are smart but the media is made up of dumb shits.
ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 13, 2013
I admit, I have a TV. I use it to watch the weather and movies. And I watched Johnny Football in the Cotton Bowl. But I haven't had cable service in 20 years.

It's always a treat to sit in a motel and watch The History Channel or Food Network.