Advanced Television

Study: Smart TVs, gaming lead video accessibility

April 8, 2022

According to research by Interpret, smart TV makers and gaming companies have been some of the most aggressive in the entertainment arena to bring new accessibility features to market. While innovations related to visual disabilities have been among the most plentiful, new capabilities for auditory and physical / mobility have also emerged. Improvements for cognitive or invisible disabilities currently lag those of other areas.

Along with a pandemic-fueled surge in entertainment consumption, there has been a growing spotlight on DEI and recognition of disabled communities – highlighted recently by the Best Picture-winning film CODA. With more than 1 billion people in the world living with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organisation, accessibility in entertainment is an area of the market gaining increased attention.

Interpret’s study, Innovations in Accessibility, examines innovations addressing visual, auditory, physical, and cognitive/invisible disabilities that have appeared over the past year from video entertainment companies. While several companies include accessibility in their research and development roadmaps, smart TV manufacturers and gaming companies in particular have come out with a variety of features to make the entertainment experience available and easier to enjoy by all individuals, regardless of their specific needs. These include voice controls, AI / machine learning, adaptable remotes and controllers, color blind settings, instructive UI, ASL-based navigation, and more.

Larger global tech and consumer electronic companies (Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) adopt the highest global accessibility standards from different product categories to avoid having inconsistent standards between products / markets. In contrast, smaller players in the video / video games ecosystem with limited product offerings, or with a single market focus are often behind in their accessibility offerings – generally just reaching minimum legal or regulatory thresholds.

While accessibility in entertainment remains a work in progress, Interpret’s study has identified several emerging trends that are likely to guide future innovations.

  • Interoperability will be key as a wider array of tools and devices are brought to market; this will provide an opportunity to introduce more cloud-based elements to specific accessibility tools – enabling personal preferences, data, settings, etc. to be more portable between devices and locations.
  • AI / machine learning will lead to even greater personalisation – an increasing number of smart devices across the TV ecosystem means that more user datasets are being captured and made available to help specific devices learn and adapt to evolving consumer needs.
  • As video entertainment becomes increasingly interactive, companies in the video ecosystem can look to gaming for inspiration – on accessible interfaces, controls, and experiences.
  • Attention to accessibility and inclusion will continue to rise, particularly as markets become saturated with subscription services and increasingly competitive. As more and more content producers build their own DTC (direct-to-consumer) distribution ecosystems and interfaces, there will be opportunities to deliver value-add and differentiating accessibility options.

“While innovation often occurs behind the scenes, it is in smart TVs and gaming where we currently see this R&D turn into real-world features,” said Brett Sappington, Vice President at Interpret. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to providing greater accessibility in video entertainment. However, what we’ve observed to date is that more companies are leveraging existing innovations in smart devices, AI, voice recognition, and gaming consoles, and applying them to accessibility initiatives. As leading tech firms now look to bring more wearables, earbuds, and smart glasses to market, we expect innovations in these product categories to positively influence accessibility in video entertainment as well.”

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