Kiss the Grid Goodbye: How TV Interfaces Will Change


Bruce Springsteen once lamented that there were “57 channels and nothin’ on.” Wonder what the Boss will say when there are 57,000 channels on. What will you say as you try to navigate your way around a near infinite number of video options? Hopefully you’ll be able to keep the cursing to a minimum if TV interfaces adapt to keep pace with the myriad of video choices.

The standard up-down-left-right grid worked when there were fewer channels and TV was all linear. But as TVs connect to the web, the choices become near-infinite, and most of them are on-demand. The goal at that point is to not show you everything that’s available, but instead reveal just the sliver that you are interested in.

We talked with some UI design experts who are working on the TV interface of tomorrow for a deep-dive, long view article for our subscription service, GigaOM Pro. Companies like NDS, Rovi (formerly Macrovision) and Adaptive Path believe that on-screen guides will become more visual, and will rely more heavily on search, recommendation and socialization.

Get a sneak-peek at the future of TV control along with original research reports on The Evolution of Over-the-Top Video, The Future of Pay TV Services and much more GigaOM Pro’s low price of $79 a year.



How can such an article even exist without mention of the company that invented the next generation grid (ten years ago, I might add)! Of course, I’m talking about TiVo!

Chris Albrecht


Talking might work (Plus, people could then sit in their comfy chair and commandingly say “Engage!”). Incorporating it into a stb might be too clunky (yelling across a room?). The phone idea might work, but that almost seems like an extra step at that point.

Definitely something to ponder. Thanks for the tip!


Hillcrest already offered gesture based remotes to cable operators for VOD content like 10 years ago. The MSOs preferred to be cheap and stick with the native VOD system menus and old set top boxes.


I’ve seen system in beta that could be solution.

Conversation based Search, with memory specific to each User. So, talk to your TV (or, through an iPhone app), ask if there are any Westerns on? Or, low-budget web series? The system will “know” what you like and what you’ve seen; even what you’ve watched part of, then connect you.

Think HAL-9000 for your TV Guide. This technology already works today. The only thing is incorporating a microphone input to Set Top Box or Remote; or, using smart phone as Remote (that technology is already out there too: NO AFFILIATION) — you just incorporate voice recognition and an AI conversational engine into the mix, and, the experience becomes intuitive.

My guess is that you’ll see version(s) of this at CES in January.


Sadly no mention of OpenTV who introduced the gridless guide, Core nX, at IBC 2008.

Chris Albrecht

Hey Doug,

You know the experts I talked with didn’t think gesture controls were going to become the new norm. They didn’t think people wanted to wave their hands and arms around that much to control their TV.

Though something like the iPhone controls certainly point to a hybrid possibility.

Doug Spice

My guess is that pretty soon everything goes gestural. Any sort of key-based interface can get pretty clumsy when your device is the size of a remote control. But if your remote control can flick and scroll quickly, plus a few buttons, then you’re getting a much faster, more intuitive experience.

Single Maria

Thaks for the post. Unfortunately or maybe luckly I almost have no time to watch TV. But when I have I cant find something interesting there. So many channels and nothing to see((( So, I would better go to sleep in such situations!!!

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