The home theater of the future is smaller and faster

Drop by any consumer electronics store, and see what TVs are selling best. According to the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) “Sales of super-sized TVs are up 50 percent in the past year, as prices on behemoth flat panels have dropped.”

The 65 inch range is great, and, in fact is what we have in the living room. Ours is 8 years old, plasma, and weighs about as much as a full barge on the Mississippi, but I digress. The size of the TV is a great match for the room.

Today’s consumers demand larger, higher resolution screens, to replicate the 100+ year old movie going experience. Thinner, lighter, and with internet connectivity and apps. You want all of the latest apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and it would be idea to have a complete operating system for the ultimate in expandability. Content is king.

But a change is coming. I’m not talking 3DTV, or the gimmicky curved screen tech of the past few years. Those are just micro iterations on the same old technology. I’m talking about something as big as the jump from VHS to 4k just in time streaming through Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

What if the best screen for the single person’s living room of the very, very near future was just 10% of the size of today’s best selling TVs?

Wait. Ten percent? 6.5 inches?

Let me introduce the living room of the future. Today’s TVs have a viewing angle of 30° to 40° based on how far away the screen is from the viewer. The living room of the future will feature 120° angles or more. That’s right, you’ll be able to use your peripheral vision to see content! It’ll feel so close, you’ll want to reach out and touch it.

But that’s not where the fun ends. It’s where it begins. Today’s audio systems are spatial – a popular setup is to have 7 speakers, and one subwoofer. This is known as 7.1 surround sound. In the future, you’ll just want to keep the subwoofer – it’s the speaker that delivers the real punch, the lows, the sounds that shake things. A “Bass Shaker” will easily suffice in lieu of a subwoofer.

So what’s this crazy future? A massive improvement in viewing angle, and just one speaker? Instead of one giant screen, I predict that it will be two ultra high resolution 6 inch screens, just inches from your retina. Content will be delivered in streams thanks to the proliferation of 100 to 300 megabit internet connections, viewable in a full 360 degrees, or rendered on the device itself. Audio will be delivered directly to your ears with the lows coming from the one remaining speaker.

People all over the globe are already living in a similar future. The future where the perfect TV for the living room is no TV at all, actually. It’s a PC, driving a Virtual Reality headset, with great headphones.

You see, in the future, entertainment will no longer be about size and simulated immersion. It will be about actual immersion, and that takes no space at all.

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michael

Husband, father, epic adventurer, perpetually curious, rule breaker, startup guy, innovator, maker.

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