Queron Jephcott Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Technology

When will Smart TV go open source?

Queron Jephcott Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Technology

As one of the office’s many Android phone users (and maybe one of the more passionate ones), I consider myself an advocate of the benefits of open source software. While the iOS vs Android debate will never die between myself and some of the hardline Apple fans in the office, I’m always interested to see where the decision to go ‘open source’ takes other platforms.

A great example of gargantuan traditionally closed sourced company’s FINALLY making the move was Microsoft and Xbox Kinect. This decision has resulted in some major innovation, everything from Minority Report style interactions:

to helping blind people navigate:

This all leads to my friend buying a new Samsung TV and clicking around their Smart TV software SmartHub. Overall impressions... a huge mess. It’s messy, clunky, hard to use with a remote and all the apps feel rushed... I subsequently spent the rest of the visit teasing him for buying this new TV specifically for SmartHub. First impression last and SmartHub wasn’t a complete surprise. Coming from a phone perspective, Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay for Android left me with a similar experience. There’s a simple explanation though, Samsung are hardware manufacturers (and good ones), not software developers. While TV manufacturers are still in the age of proprietary OS’s this will common across all Smart TV experiences.

So what can fix this problem? Two options come to mind:

  1. Spending millions and millions on interface research, design and development (as Apple do).
  2. Let the world’s untamed immeasurable resources do the work for you. 


It appears that Samsung may have decided to adopt the later. This article on TechCrunch explains it all:

The exciting part is not specifically opening the source of their mobile phone OS, that’s nothing new, but the notion of tightening the relationship between phone and TV. The concept of open source making its way to TVs is really exciting. TVs have become more and more like computers, it’s only logical that they should finally make the leap and entrust the public with more control over their hardware.

Maybe then, I can finally retire my media PC...