Interactive Television Research Opportunities

Interactive Television Research Opportunities

Alcina Prata (Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal (IPS), Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch103
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There is no doubt that interactive TV (iTV), which may be defined as a TV system that allows the viewer to interact with an application that is delivered simultaneously, via a digital network, in addition to the traditional TV signal (Perera, 2002), will replace traditional passive TV viewing habits. In fact, this technology enables a wide range of new interactive services, applications, and features that are becoming increasingly successful. In regard to interactive services, we have the traditional iTV service (which implies interacting with an application that is simultaneously broadcasted along with the TV program), the electronic program guide (EPG) which allows the management of the enormous amount of available channels/programs and the easy selection of them based on different criteria (title, author, date, time, genre, etc.), and Internet services which include e-mail, chat, WWW, shopping, banking, and so forth. As far as iTV applications are concerned, and following Livaditi, Vassilopoulou, Lougos, and Chorianopoulos (2003), it is possible to identify four basic categories of content: entertainment (content associated with films, series, and quizzes); information (content associated with news of all kind); transactions (content used to order/purchase goods), and communication (content that involve or require the exchange of messages). The success of iTV has mostly been due to the possibility of using different kinds of services, applications, and features through a unique and trustable device such as TV. Considering that European Internet penetration rates of around 40-60% and TV penetration rates of around 95-99% (Bates, 2003), we may anticipate a bright future for this new technology. However, as happens with any recent and emergent area, in spite all the advantages, there are many difficulties to overcome and research to be carried out. The main goal of this article is to bring together in one single source the most important research opportunities associated with iTV and, in some cases, present specific suggestions for future developments. For the purpose of this article, it is assumed that the person who interacts with an iTV system may be considered as a viewer (when viewing a traditional TV program and from a mass communication perspective) but also a User (when using the iTV application and from a Human Computer Interface - HCI - perspective). Thus, henceforth those who interact with iTV will be designated as Viewers/Users (V/Us).
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Itv Research Opportunities

In spite of the fact that many research groups have worked on iTV development in the last 20 years, iTV is a recent phenomenon in terms of use. Many trials were launched all around the world, but the main concern was technological. Application design has been technology-driven instead of being user-centred and has been based on the desktop paradigm instead of iTV specific guidelines. In this way, the quality of the resultant applications/services was obviously compromised. Many mistakes were made, many innovations were achieved, many lessons were learned and, more importantly, many appealing research opportunities arose from all of this. Three different research opportunity categories, in terms of their importance and urgency, have been identified. The first category refers to the main research opportunities which are, essentially, a natural consequence of the difficulties associated with iTV. The second category refers to the research opportunities that arise from the need to improve certain characteristics, which, in spite not being difficulties, may be improved. Finally, the third category, which refers to research opportunities related to completely new developments, characteristics or services. Concluding, because all the identified research opportunities need to be addressed, sooner or later, and to some extent, they have been included in this work.

Key Terms in this Chapter

T-Learning: Learning through TV.

Cross-Media/Cross-Device Systems: Refers to a service or product which involves more than one media, namely, television, mobile telephones, and personal computers (Quico, 2003).

Ubiquitous Systems: Also called omnipresent, are computational systems which are integrated within the environment, instead of, clearly use the computer. The main idea behind this concept is to have the computational process integrated in day to day objects and, thus, allowing a more natural and casual interaction .

Edutainment: Refers to an application with learning and entertainment characteristics.

Digital Television (DTV): DTV is a telecommunication system which allows broadcasting and receiving moving pictures and sound by means of digital signals (in contrast to the analogue signals from the analogue TV: the traditional TV system).

Electronic Program Guide (EPG): Also known as interactive program(me) guide (IPG) or electronic service guide (ESG), is an on-screen guide which allows the viewer to schedule broadcast television programs and navigate and select contents by different criteria: channel, title, author, date, and so forth.

M-Learning: Refers to the delivery of teaching through mobile devices as for instance, mobile telephones, personal digital assistants (PDA), digital audio recorders, digital cameras, and so forth.

E-Learning: Term generally used to refer to computer-enhanced learning anytime anywhere, that is to say, when the user wants and from any place where he might be.

Usability: Easiness of use.

Set-Top Box (STB): A device that is connected to a television and an external source of signal in order to transform that signal into content to be displayed on the TV screen. The source of the signal may be an ethernet cable, a satellite dish, a coaxial cable, a telephone line, a VHF, or UHF antenna.

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