“Alexa, write me an article about voice-controlled TVs.”
Ok, so we’re not quite at that point yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
Voice control for TV has been a fast evolving feature on phones and tablets but the move to TVs has been a slower process - until now.
Here’s what the TV landscape looks like right now.
Most major TV brands are either using Google Android, Amazon Fire systems, or making their own systems compatible with these two software.
Brands like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and LG all carry models that use Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
These systems not only allow you to control your TV with voice commands, they also open up a new world of functionality that can even extend to other devices in your home.
Let’s take a look at how it all works.
A Quick Recap of Voice Control
Voice control is a system where artificial intelligence (AI) uses speech recognition to understand our verbal instructions and to carry them out.
The beauty of advanced AI with speech recognition is that you can talk to it like you would a person.
Speech recognition software works with a range of accents, understands casual conversations, and can handle most common slang. It even learns as you use it, becoming better at understanding you over time.
Today’s AI can perform complex multi-part tasks almost instantly, such as finding the highest-rated restaurant within a 5km radius.
Voice Control for TVs
LG & Samsung
LG has voice control through its own speech-recognising AI called ThinQ, as does Samsung with its equivalent - Bixby.
Both of these companies have made their systems compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa to extend their functionality and compatibility with other Google and Amazon devices.
Sony doesn’t have its own on-device AI but does produce Android TVs which allow voice control through both Google Assistant and Alexa.
Panasonic has a more round-about method. First, you’ll need to invest in a compatible smart speaker. Then you can download the Google Assistant or Alexa apps onto the TV which can be set up to allow voice control through the speaker.
Regardless of how they get there, the end result is the same - the TVs will do what you tell them to do.
Who needs the remote anymore?
Voice commands handle all the usual functions of a remote like changing channels and adjusting volume and brightness.
They also cover fiddly tasks like setting a series to record or having your TV switch automatically to your favourite show when it’s on.
But the tech is more than just an upgrade on control, it completely changes the way you navigate content.
The New Way to Navigate
With powerful AI handling all your instructions, you have a lot of room to improvise.
You’re not limited to naming shows or channels. You can search for content and give commands using information like cast members, scheduling, networks, and program content.
For example: “Put on that superhero movie with Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin” is actually something you can say to your TV now.
Voice Control All Your Apps Too
Once we sat with our eyes glued to the TV. Then they were glued to our smartphones. In 2019, they return to their home screen thanks to the ability of TVs to host voice-controlled applications previously limited or better suited to smartphones.
Consider the Youtube app.
It looks a lot better on TV, but having to search by typing with the remote is usually more trouble than it’s worth. With voice commands, that problem no longer exists, so now you can watch famous people eating hot chicken wings in 4k to your heart’s content.
Talk to Other Devices through Your TV
TVs with Amazon or Google technology can interact with other compatible devices in your home, meaning things like lights, speakers and even kitchen appliances can all be controlled with voice commands to your TV.
Yes, you can already do this with smartphones, but what about when you’re all comfortable on the couch and realise your phone is charging in another room? First world problem solved.
It’s now quickly becoming a question of what can’t be done with voice commands than what can.
With all the major players adopting voice command technology, 2019 is shaping up to be the year voice controlled TVs take over the market - and maybe also the world.