Using Another Screen to Interact With the TV

Posted: 19/01/2012 in Technology

This week families will gather to celebrate the holidays over home-cooked meals, gift exchanges and fights over the TV remote.

That last annual tradition may be dying off, thanks to changing technology habits. More people now watch TV while simultaneously using second screens like tablets, laptops and smartphones. A recent Nielson study showed 70% of tablet owners and 68% of smartphone owners said they use their devices while watching television.

I, too, find myself watching TV in this multi-tasking mode. Using apps require people to look away from the TV and at their second screens, but in my experience, this actually worked. I tried Yahoo’s IntoNow, which runs on iPhone and iPad and Android smartphones; Showtime Social, which works on the iPad; and Shazam, which works on nearly all mobile platforms, including Apple, RIM, Android and Windows Phones.

I was fun with these apps, and each uses a different method to draw in users. IntoNow and Showtime Social poll viewers during shows, Shazam displays behind-the-scenes footage, and IntoNow displays related social-network updates and live discussions. The apps virtually introduced me to fans of shows I liked, reminding me of my freshman year of college when I piled into a dorm room with 20 people (many of whom I didn’t know) to watch the series finale of “Felicity”: The show got more interesting in the company of other fans.

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