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June 27, 2012

Ok everyone, become a couch potato!

Posted by Mitrankur Majumdar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:02 AM

Sometimes,  innovation can also mean more people sitting in front of the TV and for longer.  We kid around with jokes about "mean butt time" and creating the next generation of couch potatoes.  However, if you're a cable operator, this is what keeps you up at night.  That's why, I was excited to be at the National Cable and Telecommunications (NCTA) show held recently in Boston.  The upside is that there's so much innovation - even a few game changers - in the industry ecosystem.  But then again, I'll probably end up putting on a few more pounds enjoying the end result - a television experience tailored to my needs and preferences. This year the Show had so many ideas that caught my attention.

After a grueling, 48 hour caffeine-fueled code-pounding session in the Imagine App Challenge, a competition between college teams to take a concept from ideation to prototype, the top prize went to the coders from Stanford. They created a cool "in-home bandwidth management" application that allows users to control traffic for a specific application or device at home using an Internet browser.  This enables customers to take control of the quality of performance of their own applications.  Awesome!

Infosys was also invited to speak at the Imagine Park - a session about innovation and the companies, from the cable ecosystem, making it all happen.  We presented our concept of using natural interfaces like gesture, voice and facial recognition to create a personalized and intuitive TV viewing experience.  Our approach eliminates multiple remote controls and allows users to take advantage of existing devices like Android or an iPad.  It helps the cable operator too by enhancing customer experience while limiting in-home TV infrastructure cost by simply leveraging the ubiquitous set-top box.  We're seeing strong demand for these types of experiences from our clients. You can view the video of our demo at: http://fora.tv/2012/05/22/Control_Freak_Natural_User_Interfaces_Find_The_Way_Home (fast forward to the 11 min 30 sec point for the Infosys segment).

Cable Labs' own section - CableNEXT had some great ideas on  show especially from major operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox - all of them presenting their take on "TV Everywhere".  Innovation is driving the viewing experience beyond mobile devices to all sorts of connected devices like XBOX and connected TVs. I believe this hotbed of activity will pave the way for operators to deliver next generation TV viewing experiences. (Of course, we are a part of some of these innovative initiatives that are underway in the Cable and Telco world!).  

In terms of technology-led innovation, I was fascinated by how HTML-based interfaces on the Cloud are beginning to catch on in the cable world.  This concept has the potential to fundamentally change the next generation video experience by creating a common unified experience across TVs, mobile devices and other connected devices... all delivered via the Cloud. 

Customer experience is such a loaded word and the more I see the more I feel that it really has no limits. Star Trek is not fiction anymore. Except for, perhaps, teleporting I see everything else in the real world at NCTA!!  The world of video has reached a tipping point where innovations and new technology have become the new normal.  

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