There is enough said and written about the information continuum. As an introduction to this post, I will say it again that digital services are spreading from desktop computers to mobiles, to tablets, to Smart TVs, and to any other utopian devices that exist.
There are fundamental differences between the Smart TV, and other internet connected devices. The differences are so elementary that we may have missed it in this ‘mission’ of designing across digital channels and making websites responsive.
Digital services designed for the computer leverage big screens and fast processors making it possible for users to do intense work. Services on the phone thrive due to the mobility of the device, helping users to do micro-tasks like tweeting, reading emails, using maps, etc., on the go. Services on the tablets take advantage of its good screen size as well as its mobility, which provide ease of reading, writing, browsing, consuming rich media and doing simple transactions.
Computers, mobiles or tablets are personal devices, always used in intimate spaces like office cubicles or an individual’s lap or palm. Such devices engage only one person at a time.
A TV, on the other hand is a family (or community) device, and is used in common spaces like the living room or lounge. The TV influences and engages the whole group of people watching it. Viewers in the same room fight for the remote, brood over politics and celebrate sport victories together.
If content is being extended to the TV using responsive web techniques and apps, with the belief that a TV is just another device with a big screen connected to the internet, then that understanding is dubious.
A Smart TV is not a very different technology; people just behave very differently with it.
Human behavior changes drastically in a non-intimate space or in the presence of other people. It might be uncomfortable to read personal emails, use social networking accounts or make online transactions. Individual tasks that do not concern other people in the room will be avoided on such devices.
So, what is it that groups of people might love to do together? Buy grocery? Choose a car for rent? Plan a holiday? Look at family photos? Attend a wedding virtually? The possibilities are immense.
Digital services for the Smart TV have a lot to borrow from what video games did for the Idiot Box; allow multiple players to play the game, team-up people to do a task, and most importantly, let people have fun together. What are your thoughts?