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September 23, 2004

Tivo Feature Wishlist: Personalization

Having been a Tivo user for over a year now, I've got a lot of pent up ideas for ways Tivo (and likely other PVRs) could improve their service. As an ongoing column, I'll occasionally add my own ideas to the mix.

As a starting point, I'll point you to Kottke.org's excellent article, "Suggestions for Tivo" which also offers some reasonable features to add.

One of the things lacking with the current Tivo service is that it doesn't assume this basic premise: multiple people typically watch a particular television throughout the day.

Here's how our living room telivision gets used on a typical weekday:

  • My wife watches the morning news before the kids wake up

  • The kids watch television before the leave to go to pre-school

  • Once in a while, the whole family watches a show in the evening

  • After the kids go to bed, my wife and I catch up on our news shows

While every household is different, the living/family room television usually has different users watching it at different times throughout the day.

Tivo could benefit by recognizing this fact and having user-based preferences and features. For instance, I watch different television channels than my wife does, so having different channel lineups per user would allow me to quickly click to ESPN, while my wife can bypass it without having to mutter her mandatory derisive comment regarding men and sports. The same utility is there for the Now Showing list, and if there were a per-user password, my wife could prevent me from "accidently" deleting the latest Lifetime drama to make room for an action movie.

Tivo Suggestions would likely get a lot smarter, allowing it to determine what gets watched on an individual user level. I don't particularly enjoy Barney, but since my daughters watch Sesame Street, it thinks we'd all like to record that damned purple dinosaur.

In the realm of fantasy thinking, each familymember would have a bluetooth unique ID remote that would determine who is watching automatically, and with networked Tivos, I could pause my SF Giants game, walk to the television in the den with remote in hand, and un-pause it on another television.

Self identifying remotes are likely cost prohibitive, but a software only solution on the Tivo would be fairly straightforward to implement, would add only a little extra complexity to the service, and I think would improve the service for the people who use it. It would also give advertisers better demographics, which ain't a bad thing for Tivo either.

Posted on September 23, 2004

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This is a great idea! I would love it if my wife and I had our own personalized lineup. I wouldn't have to see Will and Grace in my lineup and she wouldn't have to see Monday Night Football in hers. I especially see this being useful with kids....

Posted by: Alex at September 24, 2004 07:55 AM

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