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CES 2012: GoogleTV Was There. But Did Anybody Care?

Google’s smart TV platform isn’t getting a lot of buzz.

2 min read
CES 2012: GoogleTV Was There. But Did Anybody Care?

CES 2012 was definitely the year of the smart TV. It’s clear that, fairly soon, TV buyers will expect new TVs to connect to the Internet to access web programming as well as do the occasional search, and that soon I’ll be apologizing for my dumb TV the way I apologize for my dumb phone today. (Yes, I know I need a smart phone, I’ve resisted so far because I fear the ability to be online anytime from anywhere means I’ll end up being online all the time everywhere.)

Google announced its smart TV platform, Google TV, in 2010. So some expected that this would not just be the year of smart TV, it would be the year of Google TV. But after spending last week at CES 2012 in Las Vegas, I don’t think so.

A few TV manufacturers did announce that they are including Google TV in a few products, including LG and Vizio. But they made these announcements with little flash, rather, it seemed as if it were a hedge-our-bets-move, that is, it wouldn’t cost them much to build in Google TV and they’d rather have it than not,

just in case it catches on. Marvell presented a reference design for Google TV, based on the company’s Armada 1500 chip. And that was about it.

Still, hedging my bets as well, I did check out Google TV. I spoke with Google’s Paul Saxman at the Marvell booth, and asked him to convince me that I should care about Google TV. He did impress me with the platform’s search features—not unexpected, given search is what Google is all about. It’s clear Google TV is not designed for someone who likes to channel surf;  rather it’s for the person who knows what he wants and just needs to know where to find it. A fan of a particular show would pick up the keyboard that doubles as the remote and search for that show. The search results will tell him if and where he can watch episodes; right now or later in the day; broadcast, cable, satellite, and Internet services (including YouTube and Netflix, but not Hulu at this time); free and paid. It’s also for the person who might suddenly get the urge to play Angry Birds on the big screen, all Android apps work on Google TV.

But Google TV is not all that different from other smart TV interfaces that integrate online services like YouTube and Netflix with live television, though Saxman did argue that Google’s YouTube interface is a lot

better. Again, it should be, given Google owns the YouTube technology.

And with all the attention paid to new interfaces at CES, the thought of needing a keyboard to talk to my TV doesn’t seem particularly appealing.

Will Google TV catch on? Maybe, if nothing better comes along. But I think at CES 2012 we were all waiting for something better. Hello, Apple?

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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