Could the TiVo of tomorrow actually control your smartphone and tablet? That was the vision put forward by a senior TiVo designer at a San Francisco conference on Wednesday.Margret Schmidt, the vice president of user experience design at TiVo, told attendees of the "TV of Tomorrow" show in San Francisco that her vision was that what you're watching on TiVo could trigger apps on your tablet or smartphone. She also envisioned a future where content could be viewed "together" by people in different rooms or houses.
Several of Schmidt's predictions seem similar to a Cisco survey of the future of TV in February, where the company predicted the content would be "flicked" from one screen to another, and that content would be viewed together from different locations. While Schmidt's vision may not become reality, it's a good indication of what the company is thinking behind the scenes.
TiVo's existing iPad app allows users to manage the TiVo Premiere DVR, schedule shows, manage Season Pass recordings, and other management tools. But the app also "knows" what you're watching, and users can explore the cast and crew while you're watching a show. TiVo's Schmidt says she wants to take that to the next level.
"You can connect your iPad app to that DVR and the tablet and control it…and it knows what you're watching on the TV whether it's live, or recorded it's knows the show,the minute you're in," Schmidt said.
What TiVo would like to do is use the iPad as a supplementary screen, with apps and other content, but not do it itself.
"What we'd like to do next... is take the secondary experience, the supplemental content on the iPad, and it could be very rich. It could be associated with the minute you're in the TV show watching, the commercial you're watching, whether it's an app you've designed, or just intelligently linking from the Food Network show you're watching and the recipe they're talking about, to the Food Network app on that recipe, that enhanced content," Schmidt said. "I think that's really interesting."
According to Schmidt, the industry needs a standard set of APIs so that devices like the TiVo Premiere can trigger apps. She also postulated a future where a user might be watching a show by herself, and then share it with another person. Although Schmidt didn't mention it, such an interactive interface was proposed last week by Google with Android@Home, a wireless home interface that apparently can serve both control functions as well as serve as an interface for multimedia.
The Blu-ray industry has already tried the collaborative viewing experience, launching the CineChat app two years ago. But the technology appears to have barely cracked the public consciousness. TiVo's Schmidt, however, endorsed the concept.
"Sometimes there's something you do want to watch on your own, and sometimes you want to share it," Schmidt said. "So let's pause this, what I'm watching now, let's throw this this other one up on the TV."
"Coming back to a shared TV experience - I like to see that shared TV experience, where we don't have to be in the same room. with content in the cloud, there is the ability to watch the same experience but not be together in the same space - that's something very interesting that we could do," Schmidt said.
Rebecca Rusk Lim, the senior director of advanced entertainment for Starz, also told the TVoT audience that she believed the future of television involved recommendations from friends. Brian David Johnson, a consumer experience architect for Intel, also related an anecdote describing how Indian television producers in Mumbai viewed the netbook and phone as the future of television.