The continuously declining cost of consumer electronics is putting the tools to create media in the hands of almost anyone who has the drive to do so. At the same time, the growth of broadband is creating the means for distribution of this media. Furthermore, the internet and other networks have enabled a new mode of media consumption, augmenting television shows with websites, allowing for live audience participation and much more.

Despite this, the living room television is still and will continue to be the most widely used device for media consumption in the foreseeable future. There is a wide gap in quality of experience between downloading and watching video in front of a computer and leaning back on a couch and watching television. Attempts to bridge this gap have been slow in realization. The Interactive Television industry has attempted to bring interactive capabilities to the television while consumer electronics manufacturers are starting to bring television type viewing to internet distributed content.

We are working under the hypothesis that neither of these concepts is the one that will truly bridge the gap between the lean forward interactivity that the internet offers and the lean back consumption of television based content. We intend to develop a functional prototype of the software that will run on a device that we feel stands a shot at bringing the best of both of these worlds together. In short, we are developing software that will run on handheld devices such as PDAs, tablet PCs, gaming devices and possibly mobile phones that allows for selection and control over the television while enabling the rich social capabilities of the internet. In effect, offering a migration from on-screen interaction where it competes with the media content itself to a separate handheld device.

In other words, we are developing an internet capable remote control that encourages social behavior such as synchronous chat, asynchronous commenting and content indexing (tagging). Once this device is developed and deployed our research will transition to ways in which the device is used while to enable collaborative filtering and recommendations for content based upon previous consumption and interaction patterns.


We have completed the first prototype of the remote. For details, click here.