Devices

Click! Imagining the Perfect Remote Control of the Future

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Over the past 40 years or so, we’ve seen dozens of game-changing inventions that have affected how (and even where) we watch TV. The remote control, introduced back in 1950, really became common in the ‘80s, and now, we can barely change the channels without one. This is a look ahead at not just what the future remote control of the will look like, but also what Cable TV in general holds for us.

There are several reasons why remote controls need to be overhauled, but the main one is the Internet – and how streaming TV will overcome our Cable TV options sooner than later.

That’s not to say that Roku or Apple TV will kill Cable TV providers, but instead, I envision the providers starting their own streaming services, with their own set-top boxes. That also means – we’ll soon be paying more for our Internet and streaming choices than we will be for our Cable TV service.

So that’s the first key – the new remote controls will be also connected to the Internet through your Wi-Fi, as will your cable box. Just like how many smartphone apps can control your channels and DVR now, you’ll use it similarly in the future.

There are tons of improvements we can make, and many of them will take lots of money, research and development, but I think you’ll agree – this perfect remote control will help your TV watching experience, while sitting in your hover recliner!

What Features Will a Future Remote Control Need?

Since your new remote control will work through the Internet, you’ll also control all of your other home theater pieces that are connected to the Internet, which will include your TV and stereo. DVD players will likely be things of the past, just like VCRs are now. But you’ll be able to check what’s in your smart refrigerator from your seat, and even see how your roast is doing in your smart oven.

Smartphone-Like Touchscreen

The main section of this future remote control will have a touchscreen window, just like your smartphone already has. This is where you’ll have all of your apps and channels available to you.

You’ll also have a headphones jack on the side of the remote, in case you are reading in bed and don’t want to disturb your better half.

TV Listings, As We Know Them, Will Be Gone

Soon, TV shows will be fed to you just like “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black.” You’ll be able to consume as much as you want, when you want. While there will still be live TV shows, like the news and sports, you’ll have a page with live shows going on that you can just jump into at any time.

You’ll no longer have a listing of hundreds of channels and shows that you don’t care about.

Each user will sign in to the remote with their fingerprint touch, and their specific channels/apps will appear. If a guest uses the new remote control, they’ll just be offered all channels/apps, and they’ll have to sort through them.

When users choose an app channel, they’ll be shown all of their favorite shows in the order of which they watch them the most. They’ll also have an option to choose “My Watch List,” which shows a combined list of their favorite shows, along with a list of new shows their preferences indicate they might like also.

The New Nielsen Family Will Be Your Social Media Friends

Nielsen ratings are so ridiculously outdated now as it is, this is certain to happen faster than anything else. Cable TV providers already know all of the shows you watch every week, as well as which shows you DVR and which shows you never watch after your DVR them. They can easily share that information now, which would give much truer TV ratings.

Not only can the TV ratings be taken from current Cable TV box stats, but there’s also instant ratings to be culled from social media. Fans of TV shows discuss their shows on Facebook and Twitter every night.

Old Buttons Making the Transition

Not all buttons will be necessary, so we’re only going to bring over a few of them. DVDs and other media will be played through your home entertainment system (like an Xbox One), and you’ll still want the ability to pause, play, rewind, stop and fast forward whatever shows you are watching.

For volume, we’re going to move it to the side of the remote, again, just like iPhones.

For power, the remote control wakes up when you pick it up – and your TV wakes up when you choose an app.

New Buttons For Your New Cable TV Remote Control

Perfect Remote Control -- tvUPstream.com

This is our view of what the perfect remote control will look like — someday!


Across the top, we’re going to have a few buttons you’ll recognize as apps. But since everyone will want these apps (most likely), then we just built them into the remote.

  • Netflix: This is essentially a premium channel at this point, and their collection of original TV shows (and movies, eventually), will someday resemble what we’re seeing on HBO now.
  • HBO: They’ve been ahead of the game for years, both with their on-demand content and their TV and movie productions.
  • Amazon: This will be your movie library. Any movie you buy will reside here, available everywhere inside – and outside your house. You can choose to buy or rent the newest movies here, for a small fee, just like now.
  • Amazon & Ebay: Welcome to your new home shopping networks!
  • ESPN Scorecenter: At any time of the day, click this button and a crawl at the bottom of your TV will update you on breaking news and scores. (Of course, your fantasy football stats will be fed here as well.) If you want more info, a second click takes you directly to the ESPN home page.

Sorry, Hulu Plus. You didn’t make the cut. The reason for this is because every TV network will have their own channel, which kind of makes you unnecessary. Hulu is currently owned by several of the main networks now, including NBCUniversal, 21st Century FOX and the Walt Disney Company. You’ll soon be paying for Hulu under a different name through your new Cable TV provider. They’ll likely have a “Local Networks Package” for $10 that loads up the apps for all of the current channels in your area.

Music Lovers Will Smile Wide

Imagine having Pandora, Spotify or your iTunes account loaded up on your TV. Many Smart TVs already have these options, and so will your new remote control. Once you punch the button, your music choices will load up in the touchscreen.

Internet on Your TV That Works

Over the past 15 years, companies have been trying to marry TV to the Internet, but it just hasn’t worked out – until now. Your new Cable TV remote control of the future will have a Blackberry-like keyboard installed at the bottom, so you can type to your heart’s content. (The keyboard also serves for other functions, like search or posting on social media.

You’ll be able to pull up a browser, either on the TV or on the remote itself as a second screen. Remotes will have one of those red trackpoint buttons that you’ll use as your mouse., along with right-click and left-click buttons.

Since you’ll have a keyboard available, you can Facebook and tweet, too. You’ll even have a button that does screengrabs of what’s on TV, so when you post about it, you’ll be able to really be specific about what you’re talking about.

You’ll also have a scroll wheel on the side of the remote, so you can go up and down browser pages easily.

TV Phone Home!

Finally, each remote control will serve as a home phone, with number buttons on the user interface so you can dial out. Your phone service will also be digital, running through the same pipeline as your Internet, so the cost will be negligible.

Do You Like Our New Perfect Remote Control?

Sure, there will be plenty of bad things we’ll all complain about. Like, product placement on TV shows in the future will automatically load interactive ads on your touchscreen. Or you might be forced to watch an ad or two when channel surfing.

The other thing you won’t be happy about is the cost – figure each remote control will cost $200 or $300, just like a new smartphone does now.

What features do you think are missing from our perfect remote control of the future? Let us know in the comments section!

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