Smart TV scenario

Smart TV

What if tele­vi­sion devel­oped to its full poten­tial with con­nec­tiv­ity and dig­i­tal band­width? The media and infor­ma­tion appli­ance at the cen­ter of most homes and offices could bear about as much resem­blance to today’s broad­cast receiver as the smart­phone resem­bles early tele­phone hand­sets. And just as smart­phones rein­vented mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tions, smart TV would rein­vent visual media and journalism.

Bill Sim­mons likes to wake up early.  On most days, it’s the only time he has to him­self.  After all, his life is hec­tic.  He works 40-hour weeks as the senior edi­tor and colum­nist for a national news out­let while jug­gling his other pri­or­i­ties as a hus­band and father of two young children.

So he’s up at 5 a.m. every day and into the kitchen for his morn­ing rou­tine: cof­fee, oat­meal, and the IQ. Smart TV scenarioIt is the ulti­mate “smart” evo­lu­tion of yesterday’s dumb tele­vi­sion set, and a tech­nol­ogy now cen­tral to life and work in almost every facet of society.

The IQ’s wel­come screen greets Bill with his cus­tomized slew of infor­ma­tion.  A mini-Q sits atop the liv­ing room table, next to his still-too-hot cup of cof­fee.  This is his remote con­trol: a minia­ture replica of the much-larger screen that hangs on the wall at the front of the room.  At all times, the mini-Q is a smaller rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the larger screen – mak­ing nav­i­ga­tion much more seamless.

With the flick of a fin­ger, Bill scrolls through the spec­i­fied news that his IQ deliv­ers to him this morn­ing.  Videos of the day’s weather fore­cast.  High­lights from his favorite sports team.  Updates on the stocks he has invested in.  All he has to do is press play, and the IQ plays his per­son­al­ized news show.

Even the per­son­al­iza­tion is cus­tomiz­able.  With the IQ’s Q-News fea­ture, users picks how often, how long, when, and what kind of Q-News updates they get per day.  Bill’s selec­tions are sim­ple: he wants two per day, both an hour long, ready to go at 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. Through an advanced com­puter algo­rithm, encom­pass­ing the lat­est arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy, the Q (as it’s now known more col­lo­qui­ally) sifts through videos, arti­cles, inter­views, and news from all forms of media: tele­vi­sion, Inter­net, and radio, to name the most prominent.

Some say Q-News can be a “never-ending rab­bit hole.”  But nonethe­less, it’s a rab­bit hole that is pre­dom­i­nately embraced by the cul­ture at-large.

Based on pre­vi­ous site/channel/purchasing his­tory and a lengthy inter­est pref­er­ence ques­tion­naire, the Q finds infor­ma­tion that Bill would like, re-packages it and presents it to him in a seam­lessly stream­ing video form.  If he finds any of the sec­tions of the Q-News to be irrel­e­vant or unin­ter­est­ing, a sim­ple skip fea­ture is in place.  With the Tell Me More fea­ture, if he wants to know more about a cer­tain piece of the Q-News, he sim­ply presses the asso­ci­ated sec­tion of his mini-Q.  At the end of the hour-long Q-News, there’s also a What About This? sec­tion, which lists a col­lec­tion of more infor­ma­tion that existed out­side of the 60-minute timeframe.

Some say Q-News can be a “never-ending rab­bit hole.”  But nonethe­less, it’s a rab­bit hole that is pre­dom­i­nately embraced by the cul­ture at-large.  As news became more inter­ac­tive – and as a result more visu­ally entic­ing – its pop­u­lar­ity has bur­geoned.  Long-form text has been reas­signed to mag­a­zines and reg­u­lar niche pub­li­ca­tions.  In nearly every respect, the news media has turned visual, inter­ac­tive and almost exclu­sively digital.

Bill slurps his cof­fee qui­etly. But by 6:30 a.m., as light creeps into his liv­ing room, he knows he’s about to be joined by his wife and chil­dren as they pre­pare to leave for school.

His wife, Melanie, comes down first. She sits down next to him at the table.

Good morn­ing, honey,” she says. “Any­thing good on?”

The few times – mostly on week­ends – when they have the oppor­tu­nity to watch together, the Q seam­lessly com­bines both of their pref­er­ences, reori­ent­ing the Q-news to some­thing that they both enjoy.

Of course,” Bill says as he leans in to give his wife a good-morning kiss before he heads upstairs. “You’re up.  Want me to pull up your Q-News?”

Sure, sure. Thanks.”

Melanie watches her Q-News – a much shorter and dif­fer­ent col­lec­tion of infor­ma­tion.  She’s going down a com­pletely dif­fer­ent, but just as deep, rab­bit hole.  The few times – mostly on week­ends – when they have the oppor­tu­nity to watch together, the Q seam­lessly com­bines both of their pref­er­ences, reori­ent­ing the Q-news to some­thing that they both enjoy.

Ten min­utes later, Bill comes back down­stairs with a pair of sleepy-eyed kids.

Mom, can we watch the Q this morn­ing before school?” asks twelve-year-old Johnny.

Yeah, yeah mom. Can we?” asks Jenny, his younger sis­ter, only eight.

I guess. Just make sure you eat your break­fast,” she responds.  She walks over to the mini-Q and hands it to Johnny.  By read­ing his thumb print, a set of child-restrictions imme­di­ately are put into place and a set of his most-watched shows at this time of day come up.

This morn­ing, like nearly every morn­ing, he chooses his favorite cartoon.

Bill kisses his two kids on the head.  “Enjoy your show, but don’t miss the bus again, kids.”

By now, it’s nearly 7:30.  Bill heads upstairs to get ready for work.

§

The office is busy this morn­ing.  The phones ring con­stantly as many jour­nal­ists are look­ing to fin­ish and pol­ish their pieces for publication.

These days, there is one uni­ver­sal dead­line: Now.  The Q inten­si­fies this mindset.

But with that being said, the Q is also Bill’s best friend because it has dis­tilled the wide array of con­flict­ing tech­nolo­gies down to one device – thus focus­ing a journalist’s job on one medium.  No longer does the Inter­net siphon view­ers and adver­tis­ing dol­lars away from more “tra­di­tional” media – tele­vi­sion, news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines.  They are now two sides of the same coin.

No longer does the Inter­net siphon view­ers and adver­tis­ing dol­lars away from more “tra­di­tional” media – tele­vi­sion, news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines.

Bill walks through his door, sits down at his desk and turns on his office Q.  This is a two-screen model, dif­fer­ent from the one at his home.  As he thumbs in, the left screen details his sched­ule for the day, the cur­rent sta­tus of prospec­tive sto­ries, an inbox of pieces he needs to edit and video mes­sages or emails that need answering.

With the touch of his fin­ger, he pulls up videos and arti­cles that his writ­ers have sub­mit­ted.  From there, he edits.

This par­tic­u­lar arti­cle is rife with dis­crep­an­cies and Bill is not happy about it.  He wants answers to his ques­tions.  He presses Con­tact Writer and, sec­onds later, the writer of the story appears on the Q’s right screen – all the way from his home in another part of the country.

As he fin­ishes the con­ver­sa­tion with his fledg­ling writer, another mes­sage appears on the screen.

I’ve got to go,” he says.  “Just do what we talked about.”  He slides his hand over to the other visual; it’s his secretary.

Mr. Sim­mons, we’ve got an appli­cant here for his inter­view. Should I send him in?”

Yes, yes. Do that,” he says, motion­ing his arms.  “Bring him in.”

Half an hour later, Bill smiles politely as he lets a middle-aged, nicely dressed man out of his office.  The inter­view went well.  The man has nearly three decades of expe­ri­ence in the tra­di­tional media envi­ron­ment and he clearly came pre­pared. But his lack of famil­iar­ity with the Q – espe­cially with its visu­ally focused pre­sen­ta­tion – makes him much less of a com­mod­ity.  Maybe for a monthly mag­a­zine, Bill thinks, but not for mod­ern media that relies on instan­ta­neous­ness, inter­ac­tiv­ity and multi-faceted skill sets from its journalists.

The man has nearly three decades of expe­ri­ence in the tra­di­tional media envi­ron­ment and he clearly came pre­pared. But his lack of famil­iar­ity with the Q – espe­cially with its visu­ally focused pre­sen­ta­tion – makes him much less of a com­mod­ity.

Bill embraces this new tide in jour­nal­ism, envi­sion­ing it as a blend of the best of the tra­di­tional and the mod­ern.  Sto­ry­telling remains inte­gral, the most impor­tant aspect of any piece.  But now, sto­ries are increas­ingly aes­thetic, cham­pi­oning visu­als over prose.

§

Around 6:00, Bill arrives back at home to an empty house.  This is incred­i­bly unusual, but he remem­bers that the kids are at base­ball prac­tice and his wife is at her weekly yoga class.  For the next hour, he takes some much-needed time to unwind from a par­tic­u­larly hec­tic day at the office.

He boots up the Q and watches the base­ball game that just started.  It pales in com­par­i­son to actu­ally being there, but the inter­ac­tiv­ity makes it a worth­while expe­ri­ence.  As the com­men­ta­tors drone on, Bill does his best to be a part of the action by using his mini-Q to answer trivia ques­tions, poll ques­tions and to post real-time com­ments about the game with a com­mu­nity of fans.  The com­men­tary comes from all avenues – from fans just like Bill to a slew of pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the game for their respec­tive news out­lets.  All of these com­ments appear in a very orga­nized fash­ion along the edge of the screen.  Using Q-Talk, Bill notices that his best friend is also watch­ing the game, so they begin a one-on-one chat.

Between innings, Bill often uses the com­mer­cial breaks as tiny shop­ping excur­sions.  With the Q, even com­mer­cials are inter­ac­tive.  Each spot accom­pa­nies links that directly con­nect to any advertiser’s web­site, grant­ing regional Q-users with exclu­sive and regional coupons.

Tonight, he sees two com­mer­cials that he par­tic­u­larly likes – one adver­tis­ing dis­count plane fares to the Caribbean.  He tags it, intend­ing to show it to his wife later that night.  He also sees one from his favorite local pizza place, and within sec­onds on the mini-Q, din­ner is on its way, sched­uled to arrive right when his fam­ily returns.

After all, tonight is his favorite night: fam­ily game night.  Johnny lets him know the sec­ond he walks through the door.

Dad, we bet­ter win tonight!” he says.

Of course we will, son,” Bill responds. “Don’t we always?”

This week is Johnny’s turn to pick the activ­ity for fam­ily game night.  He picks what he always does: Fam­ily Jeop­ardy, an inter­ac­tive trivia game that they play with a few other fam­i­lies in the neighborhood.

After eat­ing the pizza, it is time for the game to start.  All of them grab their own mini-Qs and the com­pe­ti­tion begins.  As ques­tions scroll, peo­ple answer on their mini-Q. They see how they mea­sure up to other view­ers’ point totals as they scroll across the bot­tom of the screen. Tonight, it looks like they are a lit­tle smarter than the other fam­i­lies on their block. They are ahead of the Mer­cers across the street by $4,000.

Their school dis­trict recently began using the Q as the pre­dom­i­nant teach­ing tool – a cost-effective sub­sti­tu­tion for text­books that so quickly become out­dated.

At the first com­mer­cial break, Bill pulls up the com­mer­cial he had tagged ear­lier and shows his wife. He didn’t want to show it on the big screen so the kids wouldn’t get too excited.  He sends it to his wife’s mini-Q with a brief look of discretion.

The game ends with the fam­ily cap­ping their dom­i­nant show­ing in the game. The Mer­cers ring them up on a video chat to con­grat­u­late them on their victory.

Min­utes later, it is the kids’ least favorite time of the night: home­work.  Their school dis­trict recently began using the Q as the pre­dom­i­nant teach­ing tool – a cost-effective sub­sti­tu­tion for text­books that so quickly become out­dated. Edu­ca­tion has fol­lowed suit with media; every­thing is visu­ally inclined.

They each use their mini-Qs to fin­ish their home­work, as Bill watches the rest of the game on the big-screen, close enough that he can help if needed.

As he helps his son, adver­tise­ments scroll across the edge of the screen. He tags another for a tutor that could help Johnny with his math home­work; Johnny isn’t near the math­e­mati­cian that he is a writer, so Bill assumes that even with the teacher video tuto­ri­als avail­able, he may still need extra help.

A half hour later, Johnny and Jenny fin­ish their home­work and sub­mit it to their teacher.  After some cajol­ing, Melanie and Bill finally cor­ral their chil­dren to go upstairs and get ready for bed.

After tuck­ing their chil­dren in, the last thing on the Sim­mons’ evening agenda is to spend some qual­ity time together – another rare feat that is much appre­ci­ated amid their busy schedules.

As Bill is about to turn off the Q for the night, a noti­fi­ca­tion lights up the bot­tom of the screen:

CONGRATULATIONS. YOUVE WON.

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