Television has come a long way. What started in black and white with episodes of “The Honeymooners” has morphed into 24/7 programming in color – and much of it in high definition. Programming and services are easily accessible thanks to websites like http://www.direct.tv. Now, television technology is set to make another leap – into the interactive world with companies like Google and Microsoft leading the way.
Interactive TV takes two basic forms; both use the Internet to achieve their goals. Some services place interactive content and material on the TV screen alongside traditional television content. Others use separate handheld devices that show the user content that goes with what is on the TV screen. Theories differ as to what is the best approach. Honestly, it probably just depends on the user’s preferences.
Today’s interactive TV software developers seem to be focusing on a few key areas. The first is surveys. These are of particular interest to advertisers and home shopping network providers. Typically, TV viewers are prompted by a small icon on their TV screen during a commercial or a show. If they click on it, they can launch a poll that can be completed with their remote control and their TV will send the information back to the advertiser using the Internet. This method allows viewers to express their preferences, and provides advertisers and TV networks with valuable information.
Other developments combine interactive TV and social networking. These tools allow users to comment on and share what they are watching with their friends, enhancing those connections when people are away from their computers and smart phones.
Finally, Microsoft and others are using the Internet to bring content directly related to what the viewer is watching to their handheld device or the TV screen. Watching a football game? Interactive TV can put video clips of team highlights from past games and links to related content at your fingertips. You don’t even have to search for it.