Mobile TV Guide

tv guide iphone app mock ups

The next stage of my research, The mobile TV Guide. As you might have read from my earlier posts I’m interested in mobile devices and accessibility. This next project is no different, focusing on the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) design and interaction methods. Whilst we are all familiar with the use of a grid layout; channels down the side and time along the top on our digital TVs, a system that works “Ok I guess” with the standard remote control for the majority of people. The same cannot be said for these applications that mimic this design on mobile platforms.

The grid is based on a single point interaction and was designed and optimised for remote control input to a large or largish screen, not multitouch on a small mobile phone. Also the style of TV viewing has changed, no longer are we limited to watching a programme when its scheduled thanks to online services like iPlayer and 4oD etc. Even digital video recorders allow us to remotely record our shows and watch them another time. Because of this shift in our viewing habits the way we think of TV has changed, we no longer think of the Channel vs Time grid. Another development in the TV world is the sheer number of channels available on digital TV compared to the old analog systems with just 5 (if you were lucky).

So consider the masses of channels available to you, and the hundreds of programmes you can choose from on a daily basis; getting a bit much really. Well now consider the same task but imagine you a deaf and need subtitles or signing. How would that task look on a TV EPG? Going through the endless grid of shows trying to find something interesting, finally getting something that you would like to watch only to discover that its not available with subtitles or signing. Repeat the same process several times until your get something in a format you can access. To give an idea of how time consuming this could in fact be I have the figures for TV accessibility formats. So Ofcom stated some magic numbers way back giving TV broadcasters targets for subtitling, audio descriptions and signing of shows. Within 10years of the existence of a channel they must to reach 100% Subtitling, 10% audio descriptions and 5% signing. Currently the BBC has met these targets and in fact has reached ~13% audio descriptions for TV. ITV and Channel 4 have another year to reach these numbers, and Channel 5 a few more. Now remember that your fancy digital receiver gets a whole ton of NEW channels (new to you, and new in existence) therefore likely to have even lower numbers of accessible content.

This is where my project steps in :) I’d like to investigate alternative interfaces and interactions for presenting and navigating an EPG, focusing more on getting the content thats right for individuals. Shows that are in an accessible format for users, where is the sense in displaying all the content that you can’t watch because it doesn’t come with subtitles.

Thats all for today, but I’ll be talking more on this project soon.

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