Sony Internet TV was launched in North America in 2010. It has been praised for the new user experience it provides, combining television and network entertainment, and for its highly polished design and usability. Hear from some of the enterprising designers who ventured to bring us the first product that melds TV and network technology to keep evolving, in a new take on television.
Kanno: A highlight of this product is that network connectivity enables it to keep evolving, just as smartphones and computers do. We thought it was a shame that frequent users of these devices, who form our target market for this product, rarely use a television as their hub for news or entertainment at home. So, product planning was motivated by our desire to develop a television that would capture their interest. In design, creating a television for those who don't usually watch TV would also require a special approach.
We began by assembling a team of experts in various design disciplines: product design, user interface design, communication design, documentation, and so on. For one thing, we wanted to investigate the kind of user experience we should seek from diverse perspectives while keeping all of our designers on the same page. For another, through design, we wanted to ensure a consistent experience all around-from the moment you first learn about it (online or in print) to the moment you try it out at a store and receive the box after purchase to your first experience with it at home.
Eshita: Our first task as a team was to consider our target users. What do people who don't watch television do for news or entertainment? What do they value? To visualize this, we relied on our informed intuition as designers, which brought relevant design concepts into clearer focus.
The Internet and home networks now give us access to a broad range of content, and we can share information with others nearly anytime and anywhere. It's more realistic to imagine that for "non-television watchers," TV programs are just another option next to music, websites, or SNS. Instead of limiting the definition to "people who don't watch TV," we should see them as people who tune in to a variety of other content on various devices.
Online, we can comment on a video we're watching as we watch it, and if we want to find out about something, we can search for information immediately. We can enjoy a variety of media and content simultaneously, and in the next moment, jump to something else that interests us. We consume content quite freely, in an experience unconstrained by preconceptions. In this mode of entertainment, we're free to pursue everything we're curious about. In fact, after our team had examined several hundred sheets of visual studies, we finally knew who would appreciate this Internet TV most: people whose curiosity could not be bound.