You sit on the sofa, facing your 60-inch TV, and you select your program by moving your hand, thanks to a ring device. When you get up to turn off something cooking on the stove, you take a small, iPad-like tablet with you, not missing any second of your show.
That vision of TV utopia is the most detailed vision yet of the what-will-Apple-do-in-TV rumors. On Wednesday, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said in a research report that, according to his meetings with unnamed Chinese and Taiwanese component suppliers, Apple will be releasing such an iTV, or interactive TV, and accessories before the end of this year.
White said that the "mini-iTV" 9.7-inch tablet device will allow users to receive transmissions of TV shows from the set, up to a distance of 200 meters, so that a viewer can continue watching TV content in the kitchen, washroom, garage, bedroom or back yard. With a standard set of accessories, White said the product will cost $1,500 to $2,500 at launch.
Up to Four Tablet Units
White has said Apple would offer one mini-iTV tablet with each set, but customers will be able to buy and use up to four tablet units. The tablet, while shaped and sized similarly to the iPad, will not have the full functionality of that popular device.
White wrote that the iRing "will be placed on a user's finger and act as a navigation pointer for 'iTV,' enhancing the motion detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote ."
Another beneficiary of the well-maintained Apple rumor mill has been the predicted iWatch. The technology giant is said to be working on such a device, as are many others, including Samsung. White predicts the iWatch will become part of the iTV ecosystem, also enabling interaction with the set.
Among Apple watchers, the question is whether White's vision seems like the kind of transforming experience that one expects from the groundbreaking company when it enters a new category.
Is This It?
Gesture-based TV is expected to emerge into the mainstream at some point, although it remains to be seen if a motion-sensing ring would be able to control the range of interactive options that a TV could offer -- or if it could replace the functionality of a remote. More important, what is the added value of remotely controlling your TV with your waving hand instead of your button-pushing hand?
What does sending video to your not-quite-iPad tablet accomplish that simply pausing the TV via your DVR doesn't do? The iPad and other tablets can already display TV content in any location, although it is not synchronous to the show being watched.
In other words, is this the kind of compelling vision of a "must-have" gadget for which Apple is known? Is it the vision of TV that Steve Jobs felt he had finally figured out?