CES: Samsung's voice and gesture TVs are here, like 'em or not


Samsung's latest TVs offer helpful hints at the bottom of the screen in case you're not sure which commands you should use.

One of the big draws at this year’s show was Samsung’s demo of their new TV interface which combines voice commands and hand gestures to perform activities like changing the channel or muting the sound. Almost anything you used to only be able to do with the remote, can now be accomplished by speaking to your TV.

Or should I say ‘shouting’?

If Samsung’s demo proved anything to me, it’s that I have no desire to start talking to my gadgets. Or waving my hands at them. Or to do anything else that isn’t a clear improvement on the way I used to do something.

Given that I’m not a big fan of  other voice systems such as Apple’s Siri,  I suspected Samsung would have their work cut out for them in trying to make a convert out of me. Even though Siri and I don’t get along, we understand one another. Actually that’s not exactly true. She understands me some of the time, and I understand why some people think she’s the best thing since sliced bread. That’s because there are plenty of times when you can’t interact with your smartphone with your fingers  – say, when you’re driving.

And even though the woman running Samsung’s demo suggested that there would in fact be times in my life when I wouldn’t be able to reach for the remote, I have yet to find my hands so preoccupied while watching TV that I could spare a digit or two for stabbing at those little buttons.

At least I know that if I hit the ‘channel up’ button, that’s exactly what will happen, barring me pointing the remote at my own belly button and even then it will probably still change the channel.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with Samsung’s voice system.

On more than one attempt, our exhausted demo leader had to repeat herself to get the TV’s attention: “HI TV!” (pause) “HI TV!”

To the TV’s credit, when it failed to understand the commands being shouted in its direction, it did not shout back. It politely notified us on-screen that it hadn’t understood and perhaps we would like to use a hand gesture instead.

Yes TV, I would like to use a hand gesture. But I don’t think you’re going to like the one I have in mind.

This new interaction scheme will be available on all new Series 8 and 9 LCD TVs from Samsung later this year. You’ll be pleased to know it can be turned on or off at your discretion and the sets still come with good old fashioned remote controls.

That’s good. You see I already have voice control for our TV. Every day I shout at the kids to turn the thing off and come have dinner.

But just as with Samsung’s system, I usually have to say it more than once.

So readers, are you excited that you’ll soon be able stop asking “where’s the remote?” Or are you are you beginning to have flashbacks to your first viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey?

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6 comments

  1. ZM

    yeah im not looking forward to it. my brother and me have fights over the tv all the time and through this voice control all he would have to do is shout TURN OFF TV instead of stealing the remote from my hands, which is quite harder.

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  2. NkFk

    One gesture they will never put is what most might initially think of the idea.
    Unique posssiblity in the near a possibly far long..

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  3. Glenn

    I can see it now. You’re watching a movie on TV, and there is a scene where a parent tells her teenager to “Turn the TV off!”… at which point the screen goes blank.

    I’ll pass, thanks.

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