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Voice alone cannot drive the TV experience

The use of voice discovery and control in the TV experience is still in its infancy in the US and Europe. However, although the use of the technology will grow as it matures, a panel of experts believes voice will never run the whole TV experience.

Few use video voice search in Europe and the US today

At the Connected TV World Summit in London on Wednesday, I presented new data about voice search usage in Europe. The research – which will be released in a free report within the next two weeks or so – shows that a half or more of UK, German, and Swedish viewers do not have access to voice search. Of the remainder, half do not use the technology. Other data show similar results in the US.

Interestingly, of those that use voice search in Europe, half use their smartphone, not a TV device remote.

TV voice control is still in its early days. However, this set me wondering how far voice technology can go in controlling the TV experience. In a panel entitled What the new, super-charged UX toolkit means for viewers and service providers, I ask a panel of user interface experts “can voice ever replace the TV remote control?” Here’s what each panelist had to say.

Simon Adams, Chief Product Officer, Gracenote

Simon Adams - Gracenote“I’ll say yes and no. Yes, if you know what you are searching for. Absolutely for finding Mission Impossible: Fallout. If you are in the discovery mode and don’t quite know what you are looking for it has to be a mix of voice of UI.”

Simon Leadlay, Director of Pay TV Business Development, You.i TV

Simon Leadlay - Youi TV“I’m slightly stronger on the no side. I certainly like using it in favor of typing in for a search; I don’t like using it for navigation. The idea that there will be no UI on the screen really puts me off.”

Anette Schaefer, Digital Media Analyst and Advisor, BIG Picture

Anette Schaefer - BIG Picture“The answer is yes. It’s a mixture of voice, AI, and recommendation. I think that will end up in some other device, other than the remote control. It could be the phone where you can use voice.”

Hermann Riedl, Chief Business and Digital Transformation Officer, WIND Hellas

Hermann Riedl - WIND Hellas“Not for me. For search, yes, but there’s a famous quote from Helmut Thoma, the first CEO of RTL in Germany, that when people come home in the evening, all they want to do is sit back and zap up and down <flip channels with the remote>. There’s no need for voice to do that.”

At the end of the session, I asked the audience, comprised of some 200 TV and digital media executives, what they thought. Around two-thirds of them agreed with the panel, that voice will never completely replace the TV remote.

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