Use voice, gestures to control TV

Samsung, Panasonic, Lenovo and LG are pursuing voice recognition and gesture control features in smart TVs

By , IDG News Service |  Consumerization of IT

A new wave of TVs this year will provide the option of using voice controls or hand gestures to navigate channels, change volumes or find the right content from broadcasts or the Internet. Samsung recently shipped new interactive TVs that not only recognize hand gestures, but also voice commands with the assistance of a "Smart Touch Remote" control. Lenovo hopes to go beyond voice and gesture recognition with a smart TV that is capable of quality gaming. Panasonic has already shipped some of its latest Viera TVs in the U.K. with Nuance Communications' Dragon TV platform, which allows users to speak out channel choices or Twitter updates.

Samsung Smart TV

Samsung a few weeks ago started shipping new TVs that users can control simply by speaking or moving their hands. The interactive TVs include the Smart Touch Control remote, which has a microphone to take in voice commands that are then transmitted wirelessly to a TV set. The TV responds to simple commands like "volume up" or "channel up." Saying "Web browser" opens up the browsing software, and users can also speak directly into the Google search box instead of typing. The remote and TV are linked via a long-range Bluetooth connection, and voice commands are helpful if a user is not in front of the TV. Beyond voice recognition, the TV also has gesture recognition features in which moving a hand in the air allows users to browse around and select features, much like the Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles.

But there are signs that Samsung is still adapting to the newfangled voice control technology. The company recently issued a firmware update for its voice-controlled TV sets that changes the power-on command from "Hi TV" to "Hi TV, power on." This change will "avoid any confusion both with the commands themselves as well as the way the TV is interpreting the commands," the company said in a statement accompanying the firmware.

The goal of TV makers is to enable natural forms of interaction with TVs, and Samsung is now a step ahead of Sony and LG, which offer smart TVs with traditional remote controls. Samsung's new interactive TVs are LED ES7500, which comes in 46-inch to 60-inch screens and is priced starting at US$1,999 on Amazon.com, the LED ES8000, which is priced starting at $2,300, and Plasma E8000, which is priced starting at $1,800. A separate keyboard is also available for users to type in commands.

Lenovo's smart TV ambition

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