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A smart TV, sometimes referred to as connected TV or hybrid TV, (not to be confused with IPTV, Internet TV, or with Web TV) is a television set or set-top box with integrated Internet and Web 2.0 features, and is an example of technological convergence between computers and television sets and set-top boxes. Besides the traditional functions of television sets and set-top boxes provided through traditional broadcasting media, these devices can also provide online interactive media, Internet TV, over-the-top content, as well as on-demand streaming media, and home networking access.
The software that runs smart TVs can be preloaded into the device, or updated or installed on demand via an app store or app marketplace, in a similar manner to how the Internet, Web widgets, and software applications (in this context commonly just referred to as "apps") are integrated in modern smartphones.
The technology that enables smart TVs is also incorporated in devices such as set-top boxes, digital media players, Blu-ray players, game consoles, digital signage hotel television systems, and other network connected interactive devices that utilize television type display outputs. These devices allow viewers to search, find and play videos, movies, photos and other content from the Web, on a cable TV channel, on a satellite TV channel, or on a local storage drive.
A first patent was filed in 1994 (and extended the following year) for an "intelligent" television system, linked with data processing systems, by means of a digital or analog network. Apart from being linked to data networks, one key point is its ability to automatically download necessary software routines, according to a user's demand, and process their needs.
A smart TV device is either a television set with integrated Internet capabilities or a set-top box for television that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic television set. Smart TVs may be thought of as an information appliance or the computer system from a handheld computer integrated within a television set unit, as such smart TV often allows the user to install and run more advanced applications or plugins/addons based on a specific platform. Smart TVs run complete operating system or mobile operating system software providing a platform for application developers.
Smart TV platforms or middleware have a public Software development kit (SDK) and/or Native development kit (NDK) for apps so that third-party developers can develop applications for it, and an app store so that the end-users can install and uninstall apps themselves. The public SDK enables third-party companies and other interactive application developers to “write” applications once and see them run successfully on any device that supports the smart TV platform or middleware architecture which it was written for, no matter who the hardware manufacturer is.
- Deliver content (such as photos, movies and music) from other computers or network attached storage devices on a network using either a Digital Living Network Alliance / Universal Plug and Play media server or similar service program like Windows Media Player or Network-attached storage (NAS), or via iTunes.
- Provide access to Internet-based services including traditional broadcast TV channels, catch-up services, video-on-demand (VOD), electronic program guide, interactive advertising, personalisation, voting, games, social networking, and other multimedia applications.
Smart TV devices also provide access to user-generated content (either stored on an external hard drive or in cloud storage) and to interactive services and Internet applications, such as YouTube, many using HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS) adaptive streaming.
Smart TV devices facilitate the curation of traditional content by combining information from the Internet with content from TV Providers. Services offer users a means to track and receive reminders about shows or sporting events, as well as the ability to change channels for immediate viewing.
Some devices feature additional interactive organic user interface / natural user interface technologies for navigation controls and other human interaction with a Smart TV, with such as second screen companion devices, spatial gestures input like with Xbox Kinect, and even for speech recognition for natural language user interface.
Smart TV technology and software is still evolving, with both proprietary and open source software frameworks already available. Some can run applications (sometimes available via an 'app store' digital distribution platform), interactive on-demand media, personalized communications, and have social networking features.
Some smart TV platforms come prepackaged, or can be optionally extended, with social networking technology capabilities. The addition of social networking synchronization to smart TV and HTPC platforms may provide an interaction with both on-screen content and other viewers than is currently available to most televisions, while simultaneously providing a much more cinematic experience of the content than is currently available with most computers.
Some smart TV platforms also support interactive advertising, addressable advertising with local advertising insertion and targeted advertising, and other advanced advertising features such as ad telescoping using VOD and PVR, enhanced TV for consumer call-to-action and audience measurement solutions for ad campaign effectiveness. Taken together, this bidirectional data flow means that smart TVs can be and are used for clandestine observation of the owners. Even in sets that are not configured off-the-shelf to do so, default security measures are often weak and will allow hackers to easily break into the TV.
Restriction of access
Internet websites can block smart TV access to content at will, or tailor the content that will be received by each platform.
Google TV-enabled devices were blocked by NBC, ABC, CBS, and Hulu from accessing their Web content since the launch of Google TV in October 2010.As of 22 November 2010[update], Google TV devices are also blocked from accessing any programs offered by Viacom’s subsidiaries.
According to a report from the researcher NPD In-Stat, only about 12 million U.S. households have their Web-capable TVs connected to the Internet, although In-Stat estimates about 25 million U.S. TV households own a set with the built-in network capability. Also, In-Stat predicts that 100 million homes in North America and western Europe will own television sets that blend traditional programs with internet content by 2016.
- List of smart TV platforms and middleware software
- Digital media player
- 10-foot user interface
- Enhanced TV
- Second screen
- Home theater PC
- Interactive television
- Hotel television systems
- List of mobile software distribution platforms
- Over-the-top content
- TV Genius
- Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV
- Digital Living Network Alliance - DLNA
- Space shifting
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