The Multi-screen Future of the Living Room

Plotting the future of the Living Room

For decades the most important device in the living room has been the TV. People may have stereos and some music speakers but the center of attention is the TV. And to control the TV you need the easily lost remote. Today, more devices are being used in the living room. It turns out that 87% of people are using a second device when watching TV. Still, these devices are isolated and not connected. This is changing. The future of the living room is to have multiple devices, all connected, working together to create an entertainment experience.

When the iPad came out many technology pundits wondered what people would use if for. It was not clear what problem the device would solve. What possibly could it do that a laptop or notebook could not do they would wonder. That did not hinder people from getting a tablet, and it turned out to have many uses. Most people use a tablet to browse the web but many are using it for email, games, and movies. But the real benefit was the ease of use and the multi-touch interface. Grab the tablet and it is instantly on, ready to be used. The laptop still has few minutes of bootup time and using it feels like working anyway.

The tablet turned out to be a perfect companion device when watching TV. The only problems is that the two devices being used, the TV and tablet are two independent devices, not connected in any way. This is what will change. When the TV becomes a software platform, it opens up the possibilities for other devices, tablets or smartphones, even laptops, to communicate with the TV. Controlling the TV with tablet software, is an obvious examples. Other examples are displaying additional information for example in live sports events. Simple example is a tablet app that can ask the TV for which hashtags to look for.

Playing two-screen games is also a good example. In two-screen games, some information can be private, on your tablet or smartphone but shared information can be on the TV screen. Game companies like Nintendo have recognized this potential and will release Wii U, a multi-touch game console, later this year. Both a special purpose devices like Wii U and the tablets have great potential for innovation. The TV revolution is starting.