Now that Smart TVs are slowly gaining acceptance among consumers, it goes without saying that a new method of navigating the aforementioned devices' graphical user interface is needed, since the traditional remote control that we have come to rely on is simply inadequete for such needs. Enter Philips' new uWand remote control that is reportedly capable of combining "intuitive and accurate 3D subtle gesture control with direct pointing and clicking". VR-Zone brings you the coverage.
Picture this situation: you have just bought a new smart TV and are bursting at the seams to get immersed in the world of online TV, only to find out that the overall user experience is about to take a grave hit simply because the traditional remote control, along with its outdated 4-way directional pad, makes for a very inefficient way of navigating the graphical user interface. Well, the good news is that Philips has been hard at work to ensure that remote control technology does not fall behind Smart TV development, and it seems that users may soon be able to look forward to having Wii-style remote control for their smart TVs that allows them to operate their Smart TVs via clicks and gestures. And this is all possible due to the introduction of the company's new uWand technology, which is supposedly capable of combining "intuitive and accurate 3D subtle gesture control with direct pointing and clicking".
According to Philips' general manager for Media Interaction, Intellectual Property & Standards Navin Natoewal, the company's uWand remote control technology is unique in the sense that it does not utilize its gyroscopes and accelerometers to accomplish its 'point-and-click' capabilities. Rather, uWand makes use of a small but very capable camera which synchronizes with a tiny beacon that can either be embedded into the television set itself, or connected externally via a dongle, much like how the Nintendo Wii-mote requires an external sensor array to calibrate its position on one's television set. Natoewal claims that the use of a camera comes with one major benefit: unlike relative pointing devices like mice, users do not have to hunt around for the cursor when using it to operate their Smart TVs. Rather, the cursor will always appear at the exact location where the uWand-powered remote control is currently pointed at.
However, if you think that point-and-click functionality is all that Philips's uWand technology is capable of offering, you are mistaken. Natoewal has confirmed that the device also features built-in support for gesture-based commands. For example, users can flick their wrist to change between various television channels or pause their video playback, or rotate their uWand-powered remote controls along the axis to adjust the television set's volume much like how one would play around with an actual volume knob found on older electronic devices. In addition, Notoewal claims that Philips has made provisions for uWand-powered remote controls to function via RF, Bluetooth and infra-red wireless technology, although the company strongly recommends the use of RF for best results.
Natoewal has claimed that Philips will be licensing its uWand technology to Smart TV OEMs who will be allowed to build their own uWand-powered remote controls according to customer needs and demands. As such, the final product delivered by these OEMs are most likely to differ significantly from the development product images we have posted here, although their base functionality is not expected to be affected. Last but definitely not least, Philips is aiming for OEMs to start bundling uWand-powered remote controls into their smart TV offerings by the second half of the year, so this might just be a good time to hold out on that smart TV purchase for the time being.