Ahh, TV — that blessed oasis of just vegging out and letting the box soothe your soul with a good sitcom or sports event.  Sacred events such as Super Bowl Sunday, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and the Academy Awards all harken around this box and the space that houses it. In Silicon Valley, the race to replace the box, provide different platforms to view TV content, and alter the experience of TV is ON

Last month, Netflix released its own report about where TV is going and will be years from now.  In the report it forecasted a parallel in the rise and improvement of Internet TV apps, broadband, and devices over the next 20 years.

On a June 3rd Bloomberg TV segment, SurveyMonkey’s CEO, Dave Goldberg cited the slow, but steady trend toward streaming.  According to a SurveyMonkey poll, most respondents (46 percent) primarily watch programs at their regularly scheduled times on cable or satellite.  But figures differ significantly among 18-29 year-olds:  42 percent primarily use streaming services to watch television.

What will this new living room look like and how will TV be a part of our lives 5-10 years from now?

  • Where we are now: Through Airfoil’s experience with MobiTV, we’ve made it our business to know all about putting you in touch with where TV is now, where it’s going and how you can (affordably) bridge the gaps.  Right now, Valley tech giants are vying for this coveted space and they’re bringing out their big guns.  Microsoft, through its TV Technologies unit, is de-coupling tuning to become network-independent.  In plain-speak, you’ll be able to watch programs from your grandma’s satellite dish in Michigan while you’re right here in sunny Silicon Valley.  Google wants you to be able to access whatever is on your Android phone on your TV, as well.  The other usual suspects like traditional cable TV providers have solutions that allow you to take your DVR with you while you travel, either through your second screen or through the cloud.
  • Wait a second…second screen, that is: The second screen. It is mobile.  It is where the action is.  It is your clunky remote control on steroids that gives you suggestions on what to watch and updates about what your friends and family are watching.  It closes the loop.  The iPad is often cited as the initial draft version of second screen.  For this new tool to succeed it must drive a number of devices (e.g. a receiver, set top box, and TV) made by manufacturers who seem to only agree on support for infrared remotes at this point. 

Apps play a big part in the next version of the first and second screens.  At a Google TV event on June 5, aptly titled “Android: As seen on TV!,” Christian Kurzke regaled the small, mostly developer crowd with an overview of where Google was going with TV.  Basically, it’s all the apps on your phone on your TV. 

So, where do the apps fit in? Or in other words, why would you need this?  I spoke with Bill Manning, former member of 4Home, which was sold to Motorola Mobility (which was acquired by Google for $12.5 billion, who then sold the connected home division to Arris for $2.5 billion — welcome to Silicon Valley!  Buckle up!).  He explained it to me this way:  say you like sports, but not all sports.  You usually flip onto ESPN SportsCenter.  Sometimes you find meaningful content, but most often you watch a bunch of commercials and catch up on what’s going on in swimming (and you don’t even know who Michael Phelps is).  With an app powered by machine learning (reference back to my tech trends blog post), ESPN SportsCenter will know what sports coverage interests you and will only give you that news.  Time better spent and probably (as the TV tech giants are betting) way consumers will spend their money.

Behind all of this cool thinking, you may be wondering how it is all going to seamlessly work together.  For instance, Android has several different versions for the phone and for TV.  Will it work across platforms and devices?  You bet!

Enter VisualOn.  VisualOn is focused on delivering software applications for the mobile handset market (the better testament of the second screen).  Its products enable a rich multimedia event via their connected devices, without the need for expensive dedicated hardware. They support a wide array of multimedia applications and allow users to view high-quality video on a wide variety of mobile devices.  

So…where are we going with this? Despite the glorified nature of the first screen, most of us only spend about 2-5 hours a day in its presence.  It takes up space, and is usually plugged in.  Couldn’t it be better utilized?  If technologists have their way (and as a working mother, I so hope they do), one day you’ll be able to control your entire home using the second screen.  But more on that later…


JoAnn_Yamani.jpgJoAnn Yamani is a Senior Account Executive for Airfoil, a high-tech PR and marcomm firm with offices in Silicon Valley and Detroit.