Want to see WHDI function in a virtual living room? Well, some of our friends put together a demonstration video that can show you just that. Take a look!
Archive Smart TV
Today, at 3:20PM in the the Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego, Leslie Chard, President, WHDI LLC will be delivering a talk entitled, “Building A Truly Smart Display.” The talk comes as part of the US FPD Conference.
One of the hottest trends in home A/V is the smart TV. Perhaps the only trend bigger is the increasing amount of HD content that is coming to devices other than the TV, including laptops, tablets and even mobile phones. In this context, what makes a TV “smart”? In this presentation, Les will discuss how a truly smart TV must allow consumers to access any content from any source, whether directly from the internet or from their tablet or mobile phone and through their UI of choice. Les will outline a key requirement for this intelligence: the TV must support a wireless connection that allows both the high-quality streaming of HD content and the no-latency mirroring of the source device. This functionality will be part of the smart TV of the future, giving consumers easy access to all of their HD content, including movies, games and other interactive content, from any of their devices.
First, let’s look at the devices that started this revolution in consumer behavior. The iPhone hit the market only a few short years ago, in the summer of 2007, but it did not take long for smartphones of every variety to become a ubiquitous part of modern life. With smartphones came an adjustment in the demands put on data and content. Where before, laptops offered a degree of mobility, smartphones offered virtually unlimited mobility. Then came tablets, which combined the mobility with a more viewer-friendly experience. People got used to getting high quality content, when and where they wanted.
So where is the TV in all of this? It is still there, but out of the loop. TV’s biggest problem is that it can’t move. However, that is also its biggest advantage. It can’t move because it is the biggest, best picture quality in the household; it is still the king of the household’s media. Pulling the TV back into the loop means connecting it to all the content that came out of the rise of the smartphones and tablets. Mobile devices rely on Internet content, and Internet content has become a crucial part of our culture. So, in order to get the TV back into the loop, it needs to be connected to the content that resides in our mobile devices.
Well dear TVs, if you can’t beat them, join them. WHDI allows TVs to connect to the mobile devices people have fallen in love with and come to depend on since the summer of 2007 by mirroring the content in the devices to the TV. TV stays king, mobile stays the means of finding and storing content. TV is back in the loop.
The way most people find and consume content now is that personalized content arrives on their personal device: notebook, tablet, smartphone. People have their devices on them at all times and prefer to use them. But people also still like the centerpiece of consumer electronics, their TV. Getting the content from the devises that house content to their favorite viewing device has been a challenge often met with an inflexible and distinctly non-personal answer. It is either force people to view content from the TV by forcing “smart” TV systems on them with limited programming, or take away their mobility and flexibility by connecting their devices to the TV with cables, wires, etc. Neither of these answers are what people want.
Now let’s get personal. People want solutions tailored to them, solutions that don’t restrict their device usage and don’t make them change their content habits or limit their content choices. Smart TV, smart Blueray, or really smart anything is not the answer. That is not personal. I have a rule: Evening time I am at home, I am not smart. I just want my stuff to work. I want one solution to be able to use the content I already have in the way I want to use it. A personal solution.
One solution to fit them all. One solution. All devices. The is the new living room. That is WHDI.
So where are people getting their content? A recent study conducted by Philips found that “the vast majority (80%) of people who watch video content online do so on laptops, and nearly half (45%) say having the ability to send the content wirelessly to their high definition TV would motivate them to either downgrade or cancel their cable plans altogether.” People are getting their content online. However, it is clear that they still want to watch their content on their televisions. That they are choosing their preferred content on their laptop rather than the content provided by cable companies on the TV shows that cable’s only remaining draw is the screen it comes across on.
Here are some more interesting statistics from the study:
- Three in five Americans say they seek technology that will maximize their home entertainment experience
- More than 90% of consumers believe wireless technology is the way of the future.
- One in three consumers is watching more online video content than one year ago
- 55% of 18-34 year olds watch online content more than four times a week
- 87% of 18-34 year olds prefer wireless devices to those with cords.
It’s clear that wireless technology is the future and that people are ready for it. Cable companies have to adapt, or people will continue to move onward and upward to the better content and viewing options provided by the Internet.
Last month, Broadcom, a global leader in semiconductor technology, made two moves that signal a shift in their focus and in the video market.
First, Broadcom acquired NetLogic Microsystems in what the New York Times called a “bid to capitalize on the world’s surging data needs.” Second, Broadcom decided to shut down its digital TV operations.
The moves follow a shift in consumer demands away from traditional DTV and toward mobile, multi-device solutions for their content. DTV is becoming a commodity, low margin business and not a key differentiator.
With these moves, Broadcom is making a strategic push into semiconductor chips for advanced networking devices. With NetLogic, Broadcom gains a portfolio of patents and technology that complements its vast chip business for consumer devices like cell phones and set-top boxes. Essentially, Broadcom is moving away from the TV and toward mobile devices as a chief source of content.
More recently, Intel also announced that it is going to “wind down” its DTV business; relocating its resources to “ultrabooks,” smartphones and tablets – which it calls “top corporate imperatives”. Intel also announced an increased focus on IP-based content delivery networks. Clearly, they too believe that the future of the video market lives in multi-device, IP-based solutions.
So where does that leave the TV?
It’s probably more accurate to ask, where does that leave whatever the TV will become? There will always be a market for large, high definition screens, but the way content arrives in that screen is changing. WHDI is part of that change. While Broadcom, Intel and others innovate in mobile devices, WHDI keeps them all connected. Content can come to any device in the house and be mirrored on the TV; with WHDI, content is never locked on one device. WHDI frees users and their content – access it on any device and bring it to any display. Isn’t that what we all want?
TV manufacturers are scared; the landscape is changing. Consumers are demanding more from their TV experience and are approaching high quality content in new ways. What is happening is nothing short of a revolution in the way we consume video, and WHDI is well positioned to be in the center of the revolution.
The flat-panel business has become a commoditized business, with low profit margins. Samsung Electronics said at the start of the year that LCD panel prices would remain under pressure as supply far outpaces demand. So far their prediction has rung true. Price declines and inventory pressure at retail due to lackluster consumer demand will continue to put pressure on TV brands.
The profit margin concerns are being felt not just by TV, but maybe even more so by PC, mobile and other device manufacturers. Who stands out? Very few, with Apple probably being the top exception. So what about Apple? They win at first because of fantastic design, but in the long run, it is all about access to content and connectivity.
To create value, TV makers have tried to own the consumer by making the TV the center of content acquisition. This is reflected in attempts to build a “smart” Internet-enabled TV, where the consumer uses only the TV to deliver content.
However, consumers already have relationships with numerous content and service providers through many different devices. They want easy access to all of their content using the most convenient device, whether it’s a set-top box, tablet, PC, game console, etc. The TV makers cannot replace this ecosystem.
Instead, TV makers should focus on complementing these services by enabling the TV to easily take advantage of any content, on any service, or any device. If TV makers fail to do this, they will be limited to “dumb” displays – and will continue to see declining margins and relevance in the content distribution world. A key value that TV makers can provide is to enable easy and intelligent connectivity. Apple has shown the ability to do this in its own ever-expanding, ecosystem, and there is a clear demand for this type of sharing across the entire CE space.
WHDI is a big part of the answer for TV manufacturers looking to stay connected to the complete ecosystem of the modern living room. WHDI enables a smart TV to intelligently connect all of the devices consumers use to download and interact with their content. TV manufacturers can continue to focus on making advances in image quality (next is 2Kx4K resolution) and in maintaining the TV’s place at the center of a home entertainment system. And they can do this without isolating their product from the personal TV advancements being made in middleware and on consumers’ personal devices.
TV manufacturers can embrace this revolution, and provide value by adapting to the current entertainment environment, or they run the risk of becoming just another commodity.
WHDI will be featured as a key technology for the integrated home at CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) EXPO 2011, taking place Sept. 7-10 in Indianapolis. At the conference, WHDI will be discussed in several training classes on home AV implementations, as well as demonstrated in products on the show floor.
WHDI President Leslie Chard will give training on WHDI use in home installations during course EST017-15: No New Wires: Using New Retrofit Technologies to Increase Efficiency. Held Saturday, September 10 from 9 a.m. to noon, the panelists will show how to make retrofit projects significantly easier and avoid the necessity of running new cable by utilizing existing wires and new wireless technologies to move data, audio, video, and more throughout the home. Panelists include Chard, Jamison Ching of Entropic and Walt Zerbe of Russound, with moderation by Tim May of Alamo Electronics Inc.
WHDI is also featured in course ESD058: Designing HDMI Distribution Systems That Work. Instructor Kirk Holder of Crestron will discuss how the HDMI protocol was designed to work well in simple A/V configurations, but not in large systems that distribute media to multiple destinations. He will explore the serious issues for integrators doing larger projects and the specific challenges presented when complex distribution is needed. The course is offered on Wednesday, September 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday, September 9, from 2-6 p.m.
What makes a TV truly smart? Currently, a “smart” TV means an Internet-enabled TV which can deliver OTT as well as traditional broadcast media. Basically, this encompasses on-demand streaming (e.g. Netflix) and a few other applications. However, this approach prevents TV’s from reaching their potential – true intelligence requires more.
One of the biggest problems facing today’s Smart TV model is its very limited application space. Most TVs are tied to a specific, closed set of applications (the proverbial “walled garden”) and there is no common platform that enables developers to easily bring applications across multiple TV brands. The result is that, outside of a handful of common applications, there is a small hodgepodge of different applications for different TV brands. This limits the ability of developers to reach users and forces the customer to learn a new TV-based application interface for each new smart TV they use.
People talk about creating one common Smart TV platform (Yahoo widgets, Google TV, and now MeeGO), but this is a difficult job, and none of these efforts has met with much success. But this problem has been solved for PCs, now even tablets and mobile phones. These platforms have huge numbers of apps, games, etc. that consumers recognize and enjoy. There are common platforms for developers and common user interfaces that consumers understand.
So what makes a truly smart TV? First, be a TV! TV’s should let consumers easily leverage all of the other applications and content currently available on their laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Sure, support some easy applications internally in the TV if that is what consumers want (e.g. video streaming), but do not force the customer to put down their laptop, tablet or smartphone just to bring content or applications to the TV screen.
A truly smart TV allows a user to access any program or content in any manner, on the device of his or her choice. If the user prefers to access social media link on a mobile device, a truly smart TV should enable him to do so. In other words, a truly smart TV is a TV that enables smart connectivity. This is where the WHDI standard (Wireless Home Digital Interface) can help.
The content that people want is already in their hands, in systems they know well. Why take away this familiarity? If the app they want to use is on their phone, let them use their phone! If the app is also on the TV and the user wants to use it, great, but if not, WHDI will bring it from any device, in real time, to the TV.
With WHDI, it is possible to mirror devices that people are using to give them a better experience rather than ignoring those devices. Giving TVs Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi or otherwise is a great achievement, but for true intelligence, TV makers need to realize that personal entertainment does not exist exclusively within their boxes and they have to engage the user on his or her own terms.
This post first appeared on the IBC Official blog. You can find us at IBC 2011 (Israeli Pavilion, Hall 3) where we will be showing how WHDI-based technology is the right solution for production monitoring via wireless video.