The relative infancy of digital television technology (and as a correlative, iTV, or, interactive television) in Australia offers an excellent opportunity for the examination of potential issues regarding the acceptance and take-up of new technologies. This work will explore the design and development of a new paradigm for digital interactive television (DiTV) being interactive digital vision (iDV) in which the television is no longer the focal point, but rather, the possibilities for potential interactivity and engagement with such technologies. The premise of this research is firmly founded in the acknowledgement of the specific elements required to provide a truly interactive experience. These fundamental elements are referred to as the “3 E’s”: engagement, enrichment, and entertainment.
Significant research has been published relating to iTV, human computer interaction (HCI), and usability concerns. Prominent researchers, Chorianopoulos & Spinellis (Chorianopoulos & Spinellis, 2004) discuss a task-oriented experiment where humans interact with a system to achieve a particular goal. Usability evaluation techniques employed within this study measured successful task completion, efficiency, and error-rate parameters that correlated positively with user satisfaction. The researchers also focused on providing a pleasurable user experience and evoking consumer emotion. To measure the user experience and their emotions, a measuring instrument was used premised on the research of Hassenzahl (2001). This tool is freely available, and features an easy-to-understand verbal scale. Finally, to assist in determining if the participants had a fulfilling TV experience, subjective evaluations of the entertainment value were required. The researcher’s main objective was to evaluate user preferences for an iTV application that offers clip-skipping and an animated character to present information. It was designed to address two main concerns with interface design: navigating local video storage through video clip track-skipping, and providing related information through alternative presentation styles. Ultimately, consumer preferences indicated acceptance of dynamic advertisements when they chose to skip a clip.
Other studies examined key elements of iTV, such as interactivity and how it might be defined. Gansing (2003) investigated the relationship between narration and interaction styles to determine the controls which provided the most engaging interaction. A number of case studies were presented, with each one highlighting different interactive productions, such as adventure games. While Gansing analysed various case studies, no experimental research was conducted to test the research hypothesis. However, Bais, Cosmas, Dosch, Engelsberg, Erk, Hansen et al. (2002) integrated aspects of MPEG-4 and MPEG-7 into a purpose-built custom TV interface. A total of 10 usability walkthroughs were administered and video recorded using the live system. The researchers produced three different scenarios and mixed up the tasks, some being generic in nature, while others focused on specific aspects of iTV, such as the electronic program guide (EPG). One conclusion drawn from this research was the imminent convergence of broadcast and Internet media. Similarly, iTV is experiencing convergence issues. Guidelines are now being produced that are similar to those of the BBC, in an effort to produce quality iTV programs and interfaces.
Interface designers traditionally envisage their role as designing tools to assist the user in the execution of tasks. Currently, available interface experiences have resulted in a user population who perceive the interface as merely a way of interacting with the tool rather than considering any social or emotional concerns. Over the last 10 years, over 70 experimental studies (Picard, Wexelblat, Nass, & Breazeal, 2002) have indicated that users do not respond to interactive software as mere tools, but rather that they bring social rules and learned behaviours with them. This background supports them in guiding their interactions and attitudes towards the system. Interfaces also elicit a wide range of emotions from users; users may also send out social or emotional responses without realising they are doing so. The latter may occur when designers do not attempt to elicit such responses and even when the user is presented with a basic interface; neither of which references any social or emotional aspects. Such literature has influenced that of the authors own research.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interactive Entertainment: Technology that serves to entertain the user through a 2-way communication channel—the user does something and the system responds accordingly. Some examples include iTV, where the users interact with the content via remote control or gaming consoles.
New Media: Media premised on older/traditional methods that now serves similar purposes via the implementation of newer technologies.
Interactive Television (ITV): TV that involves the user in a greater capacity than traditional analogue TV broadcasts. Users are able to purchase goods via their TV and remote control, request further information from advertisers, play games, participate in quiz shows, and so forth.
iDV: A term coined by the researchers signifying a paradigm shift in interactive media to a more personalised system that supports agency and the needs of the user—in both ease-of-use and affective aspects.
DiTV: Essentially the same as iTV; however, it acknowledges the “digital” signal that assists in presenting iTV to the user.
Immersion: A mental state where significant focus is on a particular task/activity; the individual may temporarily become unaware of their surroundings.
Gen Y: 18-25 year olds born between 1982 and 2000 (some sources quote different year ranges) and are generally aware/have an understanding of current and new technologies.