Remote Controls Soon to be Replaced?

June 14, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. detect (v.) 
[dih-tekt– to sense or notice something
Example: New types of smartphones can detect recorded voice and follow its instructions.

2. gesture (n.) [jes-cher] – movement of a body part
Example: A common gesture when saying hello or goodbye is waving the hand.

3. make sense (idiom) [meyk sens] – has a good reason or is practical
Example:   For people who are too busy to stay at home, buying an expensive TV does not make sense.

4. bug (n.) [buhg] – a problem or mistake that prevents something (software or hardware) from working properly
Example: People were afraid the Y2K bug would cause all computers to stop working in the year 2000.

5. misinterpret (v.) [mis-in-tur-prit] – to make a mistake in understanding something
Example: The iPhone’s voice recognition software, Siri, can sometimes misinterpret the commands of a user who does not speak clearly.

Read the text below.

Remote controls have been a feature device in most living rooms for over 60 years, but new gadgets may soon take the place of this familiar device.

Televisions nowadays have thousands of channels and offer viewers so many additional options like games, online video streaming and digital video recording. Because of all the choices, searching for a program has become increasingly difficult using only the traditional remote control. But designers have been developing new technology that could simplify the process.

Using a built-in camera, the latest smart TVs from Samsung can detect viewers’ faces and movements. By showing one’s face or by making hand gestures at the camera, the viewer can launch different programs, including Skype and Facebook. Voice recognition software also allows viewers to command the TV to search for the program they wish to watch.

Unfortunately, Samsung smart TVs currently cost as much as $3,750. However, cheaper versions will eventually be available. Other TV makers like LG, Panasonic, and Lenovo are also making similar versions.

Aside from Smart TVs, there are applications that turn smartphones and tablet computers into remote controls. Using these gadgets makes sense because most owners of smartphones and tablets already have the devices beside them while watching TV. Analysts are calling these devices “companion screens.”

Paul Grey of DisplaySearch says because of their simplicity, companion screens may be more usable than smart TV software, which still has a lot of bugs. For example, if a viewer scratches his or her nose, the TV might misinterpret the movement and change the channel.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Which do you think can better replace the TV remote control, smart TV technology or smartphones and tablets? What makes you think so?
·         Do you think remote controls will be completely replaced in the near future? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think having many options on your TV (e.g., thousands of channels, Internet connection, etc.) makes TV better? Why or why not?
·         If you could choose the features on your TV, what would they be? Which feature is the most important to you and why?


June 14, 2012