Posted by: Peter Carrescia | 22-11-2010

Your Family Room and Innovation

The other week I found myself in the middle of my twice annual ritual of adjusting the time on the dozen or so clocks throughout my house.  When I got to my TV I had to stop and wonder why I had to bother.  My Sony TV came with network connectivity and was connected to my home network the day I unpackaged it.  Yet despite this built-in “premium” feature, Sony engineers couldn’t be bothered to build in an ability for the TV to set its time from an Internet source.

I guess this wouldn’t be all that bad if I didn’t have to fumble through a half dozen remotes to find the TV remote.  Yes, I have a unified “all-in-one” remote that works great, but doing esoteric things like changing time requires the original remote.  And while ‘all-in-one’ remotes are great, they are still just a hack, shooting IR codes at a myriad of devices and hoping everything stays in sync.  Why can’t all this technology just talk to each other and properly configure itself?  I often joke that if I die prematurely my home theatre will need to be dismantled as it is unlikely my family will know how to turn it on.

One remote I didn’t have to hunt down to adjust the time for was my Rogers set-top box.  It draws its time from the cable network automatically, but it’s about the only thing the set-top box does well.  Why customers have to suffer through an interface that is more dated (and slow) than the Windows 3.0 interface that was introduced to the world over 20 years ago is beyond me.  And the band-aids they’ve layered on over the last year or so make things worse, not better.

And while I’m at it, why do I even need to use an archaic electronic program guide (EPG)?  Why can’t I watch shows on my TV the way I watch video on the Internet?  I search for what I want, I find it, and I watch it when I want to watch it.  The whole concept of the program guide, with ‘channels’ down the left side and ‘time’ across the top goes away with ‘search, find and watch’.  And don’t even get me started on Rogers attempt with ‘Rogers On Demand’.

Of course, as things move towards an ‘on demand’ world, what happens to advertising?  Many, like Rogers and their partners, have taken the particularly blunt approach of forcing me to watch commercials by simply deactivating the ‘fast forward’ button on my remote.  That’s a frustrating approach, particularly when I’ve seen half the show and have to start from the beginning again and amuse myself for 35 minutes while I wait to get to the part I haven’t seen.

If you’re looking for a huge market that is ripe for disruption and new innovative approaches, you don’t have to look much further than your family room.  We’ve all learned to live with design decisions that, while they made sense decades ago when initially made, no longer do.




  1. I cancelled Rogers Cable today. Apple TV, iTunes season passes for the 5 shows I watch. Switched to TekSavvy. Should be an interesting Christmas.

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