Getting to Know Social Television: One Team's Discoveries from Library to Living Room

Getting to Know Social Television: One Team's Discoveries from Library to Living Room

Gunnar Harboe, Elaine Huang, Noel Massey, Crysta Metcalf, Ashley Novak, Guy Romano, Joe Tullio
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-656-3.ch010
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This chapter presents results from an ongoing social television project, in the context of other research in the field. The authors give a detailed description of the STV prototype used in their research, and summarize their studies, which provide the findings explained in the rest of the chapter. Three major research focuses are identified, namely evaluation and validation of Social TV systems, communication modality comparison, and detailed observation of user behaviors. Based on the findings in these areas, the authors list three major open questions and challenges for the field: multi-user support, new equipment requirements, and the creation of distinct and unique social television experiences. Finally, the chapter suggests that the emphasis within social television may be moving from research to design, implementation and deployment.
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Stv: A Social Television System

At Motorola, we have explored several different kinds of social experiences around the TV. One of the experiences that has received most attention is to allow a small group of friends or relatives to share a feeling of contact or togetherness while watching TV; a “virtual couch.” As part of this research, we have developed a series of prototypes, collectively known as STV, for use in lab and field trials (Table 1). The first iteration, STV1, consisted of a simple, single-session audio link between households, which allowed users to communicate via open room-microphones and hear their conversation partners through their television speakers, mixed with the TV audio (Harboe, Massey, Metcalf, Wheatley, & Romano, 2008a). There was no visual user interface, and the only control given to users was the ability to adjust the relative volumes of the TV audio and the voice audio using a remote control.

Table 1.
Versions of the STV social television prototype.
STV2aYesLive, FutureEmoticons
STV2bYesLive, FutureEmoticons, pre-defined text-messages
STV3YesLiveEmoticons, text chat, voice

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