Interactivity no longer uses wax crayons and the smartphone is the new means of personalisation writes Julian Clover.
Not so long ago any self respecting PowerPoint on the subject of interactive television would include a reference to the children’s cartoon character Winky Dink. This is a little similar to the game us hacks would play whenever a French national got up to speak. Set your stopwatch and see how long it is before Minitel was mentioned.
Winky Dink was supposedly an early incarnation of interactive television. Every week our cartoon hero would find himself in a predicament where only the viewer could help. Just how would he cross the bridge? Well kids, take your special Winky Dink crayons and draw a new bridge for him! In is difficult to know if this is an example of interactivity or a means to sell cleaning materials and new TV sets.
What would follow was even more laughable, devoid of Red Button, US viewers could play along with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire by answering the questions posed on their laptop?
Britain at this time had a different approach to interactivity. We were too busy inviting the whole family to gather round the TV set to check the bank statements to realize our US friends were onto something.
Some ten years later we all have our laptops to hand when watching TV, well enough to be significant if the early success of ITV Live is to be replicated. It seems we don’t want to use our Red Button to choose from four camera angles – as opposed to the 30 plus the well-paid director has at their disposal – but chatting with like-minded friends might just work.
It’s not just the laptop of course, the growing number of smart phones means we all have a personal communications device at our disposal. In Monte Carlo it’s more than half, so Monaco Telecom has applications capable of controlling the TV screen available for iPhones, Androids and soon the Blackberry.
The same phones can be used to interact with the content in the way the Red Button was once intended. The only barrier is the long list of means to get in touch with individual shows; phone, text, email, website, Twitter, Facebook. One almost feels the next programme is in danger of cancellation due to lack of time.
The personal screen concept can only grow, particularly if the same device that works in the living room can also be used to receive content on the go, better still if you’ve got the billing relationship on that device too. And with the apparent instant appeal of the iPad – I’ve heard of more than one home where it has become a family device – here’s another means of working the connected home.