The Future of TV: What’s After HD?

On January 1, 1954, television viewers were treated to a glimpse of the future with the very first national broadcast in color — the Tournament of Roses Parade — but only 200 RCA sets capable of showing it existed. Talk about low ratings!

However, it still signified the death of black-and-white and the things to come for TV. Since then, rabbit ears have been replaced by excellent digital cable service, like www.direct.tv, and grainy picture quality has given way to crystal-clear high definition. So what does the future hold for your next home entertainment system? Let’s see.

3D: Things Get a Little Closer

The glasses have changed — they’re made of LCD lenses instead of thin plastic and are much more expensive — but the concept is the same. Readily available, for a price, from electronic retailers, 3D TVs fool your brain with alternating screen images and shuttering lenses to make you feel like you’re in the action.

However, follow the rules and avoid watching television in 3D while drunk or pregnant. Fortunately, 3D TVs are being developed and are starting to hit stores that will not require the use of special glasses. So far, 3D is popular among sports fans and male viewers of The Hills, but that is sure to change once prices start to decrease.

Internet: Your TV Becomes a Computer

Hate when nothing’s on? With Internet TV you can only blame yourself for being indecisive or production studios for making horrible programs — we’re looking at you Baywatch Nights.

Internet-connected televisions access the Web similar to computers but offer a more personalized viewing experience than normal TVs, letting you watch what you want to watch by streaming your favorite shows through services like Netflix and Hulu. Or you can catch up on the latest way someone can injure their groin on YouTube.

UD: Ultra Definition

As television screens start taking over larger portions of your living room walls, better picture quality will have to follow suit. Farther into the future, and farther back in the dictionary, will be ultra definition television.

UDTVs will boast around 3840 x 2160 pixel resolutions compared to the 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution in HD. One thing; such picture quality will provide extreme zooming capabilities. Again, it will probably be pretty popular with men who watch shows like The Hills.

Visible Light Communication: Light Speaks to You

In the future, the backlighting of your television may do much more than display an image. Each tiny backlight just might send you complex pieces of information. Visible light communication technology utilizes LED lights to send information through high frequency blinking.

Such technology will make it possible to control devices with lighting and open a Pandora’s box for advertisers. One day, simply turning on your TV will make you thirsty for a Coke.

Shrinking Bezels: Stack Screens Like Blocks

The bezel is the edge of your television where glass panels meet to form the LCD screen, pretty much dead space. Eliminate bezels and you have a seamless screen, and possibly the TV screen of the future.

Samsung is the first to give it a shot, scaling down bezel size to 7.33mm for new TV from Runco, the luxury home-entertainment retailer, called WindowWall (pity the neighborhood kid who puts a baseball through this window). And with thin bezels, you can stack several screens in numerous combinations anywhere in your home.

Quantum Dots: Bend Your TV

If Dippin’ Dots is the future of ice cream, then quantum dots just may be the future of television. These semiconducting nanocrystals shine brightly when stimulated by light or electric current, using significantly less energy than LCDs.

Scientists at Samsung have started to tap their potential by placing them on flexible plastic and charging them with a thin-film transistor. That means, in the future your TV might be made of some interesting material, such as plastic or rubber that can be bent and stretched as you see fit.

Smell-O-Vision: Get a Whiff of Your TV

One day, you may find yourself wondering what smells so good, only to realize it’s your television. That’s right; your future TV may be capable of emitting odors in accordance to what’s on your screen. You’ll be able to smell the latest creation from Emeril’s kitchen or the dead body floating in a New York harbor on CSI (okay, maybe not this).

Already, University of California, San Diego researchers have created a small box that uses electric currents to heat liquid solutions inside and produce a combination of 10,000 distinct smells. Based on the setting or featured objects on screen, such a device embedded in your TV will concoct the appropriate odor to stimulate another one of your senses. Can we consider this 4-D? If so, 5-D TVs just might be serving you lunch.

Conclusion: A More Interactive TV

Today, it’s safe to say watching TV is no longer simply staring at a box. But in the future, watching TV at home will be an even more interactive experience with additional sensory stimulations. You will be able to physically manipulate your TV, while advertisers will draw you in with much more than clever Super Bowl commercials. No pun intended, but the future of TVs in homes looks bright.