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TV Industry Preparing for Voice Recognition Interfaces in 2012


Apple iScreen concept by Ciccarese Design

Businessweek reports on the movement towards voice-activated TV remotes in the coming year. The move seems triggered by Apple's plans to enter the TV market in the near future. Steve Jobs said that he had finally "cracked it", referring to the TV user interface. Most believe that this revelation relates to Apple's Siri voice recognition system, and the industry is on the move:
Whether the rumors are true that Apple is planning to release a TV set by 2013, Siri-like voice recognition is headed for the living room. Microsoft (MSFT) is already there, via its Xbox 360 game console, and Comcast (CMCSA), Samsung Electronics (SHCAY), LG, and Sharp are working on voice-enabled features for TV sets, set-top boxes, and related products.
Businessweek suggests an voice command as simple as "Record the next episode of Modern Family" as a much needed improvement over the current solution. Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group goes on to say "Anything would be better than what we have now."

Upcoming remote devices are said to look more like iPhones than traditional remotes, with possibly a single physical button to activate the microphone. Others are working to simply embed microphones around the living room and eliminating a physical remote altogether. Nuance suggests that 5% of TVs could be voice controlled by Christmas 2012.

We've previously reported about competitors "scrambling" to identify what an Apple television set might look like. The lead up is reminiscent to the large number of tablet plans from competitors in the months leading up to the original iPad launch.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Top Rated Comments

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34 months ago
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Rating: 23 Votes
34 months ago
TV companies are already scrambling because of the rumored "iTV" that we know nothing about.
Rating: 12 Votes
34 months ago
Apple did Siri.

So it's now "safe" for everyone else to do.
Rating: 10 Votes
34 months ago

The only problem with voice recognition on TVs is that it could interfere when commanding volume. If the TV is too loud, then the mic may pick that up. "Turn volume down to ten." "Did you say, 'buy a Snuggie?'"


Why do people keep thinking this?

Obviously they're gonna add a trigger where the TV volume will go mute when Siri is on.
Rating: 10 Votes
34 months ago

Apple did Siri.

So it's now "safe" for everyone else to do.


XBox does it today. What's your point?
Rating: 9 Votes
34 months ago
In my opinion, in order for Apple's television solution to really be a revolutionary product, it will have to do more than just have a Siri-remote (http://www.techperfect.net/2011/11/the-challenge-facing-an-apple-television/). That would be a nice feature, but remember that most televisions don't live alone in an isolated environment - they are connected to stereos that have their own complicated "universal" remotes.

In order to really crack the TV - and therefore the living room - Apple needs to have their Siri remote not only be able to command the TV, but all of the other devices that you have. Maybe they'd use Airplay? Maybe they'd use HDMI control?

That's before we even start talking about content and content synchronization.

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The only problem with voice recognition on TVs is that it could interfere when commanding volume. If the TV is too loud, then the mic may pick that up. "Turn volume down to ten." "Did you say, 'buy a Snuggie?'"


Saying this is like saying that playing music from a phone is a bad idea because it would interfere with phone calls.
Rating: 9 Votes
34 months ago
The only problem with voice recognition on TVs is that it could interfere when commanding volume. If the TV is too loud, then the mic may pick that up. "Turn volume down to ten." "Did you say, 'buy a Snuggie?'"
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago

They're trying to beat Apple to the punch. They've sat back and watched Apple destroy Palm, Windows Mobile, and now RIM is in the ICU. They simply don't want to be next.


Thing is, someone already beat Apple to the punch...assuming that Apple's ideal TV is one that you control via voice commands.

I wish I could remember the name of the thing. It had a rather ingenious setup. To keep the set from accidentally activating itself, it'd only take commands if you called out the name of the set beforehand. It'd then mute the speakers, and begin listening.

I think one of the reasons it failed was because people found it too awkward to use. As in, no one liked shouting out phrases at a TV set. Whatever Apple ends up doing, I kinda doubt Siri will be involved.

Apple did Siri.

So it's now "safe" for everyone else to do.


Uh. Besides my example above, showing that voice recognition is far from a recent thing, Android already had a rather robust set of voice commands long before Siri showed up on the scene. Siri is a good deal more intelligent, and is able to figure out what you mean without requiring you to spit out perfectly formed sentences to get a response. But still, it's a new tweak on an old idea.

Go visit some other tech site once in awhile. You'll realize there's a whole world of neat ideas and innovations out there beyond the Apple-centric bubble you seem to live in.
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago
Relative to all this "Siri can't hear over the TV volume" nonsense, why not just program the system to ignore the audio stream for the television programming so that Siri can't hear it at all (like noise canceling headphones, but much better since the "noise" would be very specific and precise)? Then, Siri would just hear the sounds in the room that are NOT playing through the TV.
Rating: 7 Votes
34 months ago
Microsoft already has a couple years on apple in this field. Who is gonna want to pay double the current market price of tv sets when you can have the kinect for a few hundred with your tv current set up? Kinect is the 'real' innovation/ Apple will have to do a whole lot more than Siri on a luxury priced set to make this work..
Rating: 7 Votes

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