The Future of Television - Glenn Hall

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This is an entry in The Future We Deserve - a collaborative book project about the future. See all the entries or talk about this entry.



It's 2010, and the space in front of the sofa is free. But is it, can you see the avatar? It's lightly projected and as you move towards it, it moves towards you. It reads your mind. It notices you are tired, and hungry, and thirsty. You wave, and it moves aside, revealing a stream of information about food and drink, and the audio becomes more part of your world. You can smell the coffee, and already feel better. You’re still on the sofa.

You think what I need is the human experience of sharing food, and enjoying the interaction with others, more than the simple task of heating something already prepared. The avatar returns and waves towards spaces in real time, where friends are. One is cooking and turns to smile. And speaks, the avatar gently moves to the side, yet waits alertly for instruction.

You move to your own cooking space, and share your fridge. You hold a camera close to a piece of food, and share it. The avatar beckons, your screen shows people, and food, and menus.

The bell sounds, loudly, the adverts run. Recipes, cookery gizmos, ingredients, wine. Then taxis. You wait. Pizza Delivery. You regret not having the advert free service.

The screen gets brighter, the avatar snaps to attention, it’s the Government. Eat this, cook like that, exercise more. You hit the deliver Pizza button, and click for cold beer. Sports channel on. Alone.

Television? Or our primary in-home communicator. It reads your mind, you don’t choose, it has no channels. It brings you what you want, and what The Government thinks you need.

Yet, Television is a device, a system, a business, a method for enhancing the human experience. It’s now two way, smart, intelligent, responsive, and unseen.

At HP Labs Bristol, in the 1990s, a research project created some internet furniture. It was an ergonomic workstation, yet one version incorporated a Television set. It bridged the connection, between Consumption (viewing) and Creation (response, engagement, sharing.)

Our future, could it be of engagement, not of consumption? Could devices serve us, not control us? Could they be elegant, non intrusive, and not wooden or plastic boxes with glass screens.

Television is a system, for the “Transport of Emotion” it moves human experiences towards us. In our Future we Deserve we will engage, with the interactions, with the people, and above all, we will contribute back.

All of this is possible today.