Douglas Adams got here first

The television remote could become a thing of the past according to scientists who have developed a new technology that allows the device to be controlled through gestures instead.

The point being that you then had to stay very still to keep watching the same program (actually, listening, it was a radio).

18 thoughts on “Douglas Adams got here first”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I guess people are going to have to stop having sex on the couch. Because the neighbours will be able to figure it out from the loud channel-hopping.

    Sometimes engineers ought to stop and think about whether they should be doing things. I mean, yes, it is a lovely idea. Especially for computer games played by silly teenage girls involving dancing. But what sensible adult actually wants this?

  2. I think terrestrial television will become redundant before the remote. “Alexa, get me season 1 of Billions episode 2. Pick up where I stopped last time”. I mean does anyone still seriously click through to see ‘what’s on’?

  3. I do, MarkT, on the rare occasions I am so bored that I switch on the TV. I have never watched Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad,or even The Sopranos. Never heard of Billions. When people tell me about Game of Thrones, they tell me how much money is spent on each episode rather than anything to do with plot, action, characters, themes etc. If the reason to watch is the production values, I might as well read the Big Friendly Caterpillar. Flicking through the channels reminds me that nothing good appears to have been made since Victor Meldrew stopped

  4. Suggestion for developers: make the 2-fingered salute the cue to change channels, provided only that the channel being watched is from the BBC. The 1-fingered salute should mute the sound whenever any of the following are onscreen:

    1. Yasmin Alibi-Brown (or whatever she’s called)
    2. Marcuse Brigstock
    3. Will Self
    4. John McDonnell
    5-100 (User-programmable)

  5. @Diogenes.

    Gosh, that was eerie. Exactly my thoughts (although I’d replace Victor Meldrew with series three of Red Dwarf)

  6. Diogenes,

    “I do, MarkT, on the rare occasions I am so bored that I switch on the TV. I have never watched Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad,or even The Sopranos. Never heard of Billions. When people tell me about Game of Thrones, they tell me how much money is spent on each episode rather than anything to do with plot, action, characters, themes etc. If the reason to watch is the production values, I might as well read the Big Friendly Caterpillar. Flicking through the channels reminds me that nothing good appears to have been made since Victor Meldrew stopped”

    Most of this stuff is overrated. I think people like it a lot because it’s TV pushed up to 18 rated. So, you now got tits, violence, drug use and swearing. And I’m not against that being on TV, but if you’re just going to have tits for the sake of tits, why not just watch actual porn?

    Or maybe there’s people out there that are just used to shitty movies and haven’t seen the great stuff…

  7. I wrote to the BBC with a plan for a 24 hour music channel playing nothing but Confederate songs but never even got a reply.

    A pity. I had a plan for a weekly contest to re-write the lyrics in English Patriotic and anti-EU fashion. Big cash prizes to the weeks winner.

    At least using the TV gadget to switch on the BBC will help bring gesture politics to a new low.

  8. SMFS,

    “Sometimes engineers ought to stop and think about whether they should be doing things.”

    I don’t think it’s so much engineers pushing this as the marketing and sales people. They need to convince people to go out and buy a new TV to replace their perfectly good set. They’re pushing 4K despite the fact that it makes no difference below 80″ screens.

    The only thing I’d spend money on at the moment is OLED and that’s out of price range right now (£1600+).

  9. My parents had 4 remotes. I was one of them.
    Back in the days of 3 channels and getting the kids to push a button by the side of the screen.

  10. Mr Ecks,

    Well, I’m not. £1600 is out of my league at the moment. When OLED is £500, I’ll buy one to replace my slightly faulty set. I’ll pay a small premium for OLED (say £50-100).

    And I want it for movies on blu-ray, mostly. I don’t watch a lot of “TV”. It’s mostly shite. I’ve liked The Americans, The Man in the High Castle and The Girlfriend Experience recently, but even then, they don’t warrant an upgrade. They weren’t made for cinema but for TV.

  11. My car has voice remote control.

    Gamecock pushes button.

    Audio system says, “Say command.”

    Gamecock says, “FM 99.7”

    Audio system says, “Tuning to FM 99.7.”

    Or I could say, “Play Beethoven.”

    ‘allows the device to be controlled through gestures’

    Seems like a lot of damn work to me.

  12. My Land Rover had voice activated commands – or at least that’s what the salesman told me. I’d spend hours shouting at my car trying to get it to turn Radio 2 off and put some bloody Pink Floyd on. It never worked.

    Eventually I’d give up and ask my wife to do it. Often with exactly the same result.

  13. And I’m not against that being on TV, but if you’re just going to have tits for the sake of tits, why not just watch actual porn?

    Made this point to a couple of colleagues last week. They looked at me like I was some sort of evil alien. I probably am to them (not being CS.)

    When OLED is £500, I’ll buy one to replace my slightly faulty set.

    I succumbed after Virgin had provided me with an “upgrade” that made my otherwise perfectly functional 10-year old 780p Panasonic plasma useless. Went for one of the new Sony OLED TVs. (I seem to have a slightly different ‘league’ than others.) Very nice on 4k UHD Blu-Ray or 4k Netflix.

    Don’t really watch enough broadcast TV to comment (although so little is broadcast at 4k.) The shop were keen to use the Amazon not-Top Gear as a demo, and Planet Earth was gorgeous enough that you could tune out Attenborough’s eco-mongering.

    Slightly worried about the Andreadful interface though, so it is currently sat outside the household firewall with only the fw on the router between it and the evils of the Intertubes.

  14. @Thomas Fuller, October 2, 2017 at 9:03 am


    5. Jo Brand
    6. Russel Brand
    7. Jonathan Ross
    8. Williams
    9. Clair Balding
    10. Laurie Penny

    1x: Football, Golf, Darts, …

  15. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Gesture control is one of those things that marketing cunts think up at intervals, convince a senior management bloke is a good idea, and then push for it to be implemented despite the engineers shouting at them what a fucking stupid idea it is. It violates some of the core principles of UX design. Firstly, it’s incredibly low bandwidth: unless you’re a trained mime, making repeatable gestures is hard, so the space of available gestures is sparse (they have to be highly distinguishable in order to be unambiguous). Secondly, they need training, both of the device and the user. Everyone knows how to use a remote, and every TV knows how to listen to a remote. You should not have to learn how to play a fucking theremin in order to drive your TV. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, they are prone to false negatives and false positives. Already we’ve seen people hijacking things like Alexa by injecting audio content into the environment. Imagine having an animated conversation with a bit of arm-swinging and the TV keeps turning the volume up and down. And then when you actually want it to do something it won’t respond. It’s one of those classic solution-in-search-if-a-problem things that bedevil us periodically. The last thing was 3D TVs. They were fucking minging. They should have come with a lifetime supply of Dramamine. God I hate marketing twats.

  16. …but if it’s controlled by hand gestures, what if you’re watching a political rally? It would keep switching to another channel… oh wait.

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