What will TV be like in 2020?

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TV is developing at a rapid pace, with flat sets, HD-ready TV becoming commonplace in a matter of months, not to mention TV over the net, mobile TV and personal video recorders. But what will our viewing be like in the year 2020? NTL/Telewest has pooled the brains of the leading technology experts – including Tech Digest’s Chris Price – to discover what technological advancements we can expect during the next 15 years.

2020 Future Vision, a report based on the panel’s insights, predicts a home where the traditional TV set will be replaced by a range of flexible viewing devices. Thanks to developments in ultra-thin display technology, walls themselves will become screens, with video wallpaper and tiles offering the potential to use entire rooms or specific areas to watch your favourite shows. And with crystal-clear HDTV services anticipated to become standard and the emergence of streamed 3D holographic images, viewers really will feel part of the action.

Read on after the turn for a full list of what TV could become.

Innovations we could see in our home by 2020:

  • News reports playing on the back of a cereal box
  • One TV screen showing two different programmes, depending on the angle you watch it from, teamed with "advanced narrow directionally projected sound" – a system allowing two or more viewers to hear separate things within the same room
  • Windows and blinds showing live images of sunny climates to replace the rain outside
  • Access to internet browsing from the front cover of, or an advert within a glossy magazine
  • Personalised technology enabling us to change programme or adjust volume verbally or from a control panel integrated into a piece of furniture, such as the arm of a sofa
  • Viewers will be able to decide what happens next in a drama, or even cast virtual actors for a particular storyline
  • "Appointment TV" will become a thing of the past as every broadcast is automatically stored on the network for viewers to access whenever they like. By 2020, there will only be one channel – yours
  • The advent of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips – worn or implanted – will mean personal preferences can be indicated to intelligent gadgets, so a TV show of choice could follow you around the house, into the car or onto portable devices, with screens turning on and off as you go

Mark Horley, Future Vision panellist and head of TV strategy at ntl Telewest, remarked: "Watching TV in 2020 will be a truly mind-blowing experience, putting the viewer in complete control. New technologies like TV on demand are already allowing us to break free from the schedule, but the entire lounge will be adaptable to each viewer’s preferences in the future. As wallpaper screens and other devices replace the traditional box, and innovations such as 3D TV take off, we will really feel part of the action."

You can download the full report at www.telewest.co.uk/futurevision.

Telewest website
NTL website

Dave Walker