CES brings new controls to devices and TVs

Samsung (opens in new tab) unveiled the worst-kept secret of CES: that the Galaxy Note Android phone finally would be heading to the United States. With its huge 5.3-inch screen, it is the optimum display for mobile TV. But many were surprised that the unit included a stylus. Really? Didn’t we bypass this method of input back in the Palm Pilot days? Maybe not. As manufacturers scramble to get the edge on one another, how we interact with our mobile devices could be the next big advance.

A lot of this is being brought on by Microsoft’s Kinect. A huge hit last year and still selling like gangbusters, and even coming to the Windows desktop platform this quarter, the Kinect has started lots of companies thinking about alternate ways of input. Motion control, touch and voice control could be the next big wave.

Apple’s Siri, part of the iPhone 4S, showed that you did not need to hit buttons to get stuff done. Now other mobile phone companies are looking at ways to mimic Siri and provide much more advanced natural speaking control. Samsung, in addition to the Galaxy Note, introduced at CES a suite of 2012 Smart TVs that feature voice and motion control, as well as facial recognition. Face detection will play out as a prime feature in the next few years, Apple already applied for an iOS face recognition patent in December of last year for its mobile phone devices.

All of this points to improved usability, something the consumer craves and that really pushes products. Apple’s iPhone was a hit out of the gates, not just because of advanced features, but because a phone came along that was suddenly just easier and more fun to use.

Television developers have wrestled with complex remote controls and advanced setup parameters. But much of this could go away with new features such as voice control. As 2012 presses on, expect to see more and more of these new type of controls come to market, if CES is any indication. Mobile devices, tablets, TVs and much more consumer hardware will be controlled by voice or just a wave of your hand.