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TiVo next-gen platform

Streaming has irrevocably changed how we watch TV. Nowadays you can watch pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want, schedules be damned (as long as you have the right streaming services, that is).

But this is only the beginning. There's a host of new technologies on the horizon that will wreak havoc on the traditional telly watching experience.

Excited? You should be.

1 More smart assistants

lg thinq tv google assistant

Smart TVs are a great way of connecting to the internet without the need for a streaming box. They let you watch catch-up and on-demand content from the likes of BBC iPlayer, Netflix, All 4 and more, browse the web, check your emails and a lot else besides. But increasingly, their powers are expanding.

This is thanks to the inclusion of personal assistants along the lines of Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. LG has announced that its new TVs this year will feature Google Assistant, the same helper found in Android phones and the Google Home smart speaker. This lets you control corresponding smart home devices like lightbulbs and washing machines from your TV, all just by speaking.

But that's not all. LG's new tellies also feature the firm's own personal assistant in the form of ThinQ AI. This too is voice-activated, but only handles the TV-specific tasks. Say "search for the soundtrack of this movie", or "turn off the TV after this programme has finished", for example, and it'll do your bidding.

LG isn't the only one backing personal assistants. HiSense has announced that Amazon's Alexa will feature in select 4K models launching this year, and Samsung said that its personal assistant Bixby will make its way from its smartphones and tablets into its TVs.

Last year saw Sony and Toshiba also announce their TVs' compatibility with Google Assistant. With the ability to order a pizza direct from the TV, will we ever get off the sofa again?

2 The new TV chef

whirlpool smart oven

Smart ovens are also on the horizon. Which means that not only will you be able to control your lightbulbs, thermostat and washing machine from your TV, you'll be able to cook your dinner too.

Amazon recently added ovens and microwaves to the list of devices that can be controlled by its Alexa personal assistant. It did this by adding 'cooking capabilities' to its Smart Home Skills API. In other words, manufacturers can start building the commands into their kitchen devices.

This makes your smart oven a proper sous chef, controllable from your Amazon Fire TV streaming device or TV that comes with Alexa functionality built-in. Say "Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken," or "Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high," for example, and it will be done. And all without lifting a finger.

Whirlpool has already announced a smart oven with Alexa support baked in, if you'll excuse the pun.

So relax. Dinner's on us

3 8K

4K has been around for a few years already, but it's only recently started to take off – until now, a combination of ridiculously high prices and a dearth of content to watch kept away all but the beardiest of AV geeks. It's a fantastic viewing technology, with four times as many pixels as high definition. But don't think it's the be-all and end-all of TV tech.

Because 8K is already on the horizon. That's right, no sooner have we all shelled out hundreds on pricey new TVs than we're being told they're out of date.

Well, almost. Because while 8K TVs have been announced (LG recently unveiled the world's first 8K OLED set), they won't become feasible until a) the prices come down to something us mere mortals can afford, and b) broadcasters start supporting the format. Neither is likely to happen anytime soon.

8K has a ridiculous 7,680x4,320 pixels, which is four times as many as 4K, and 16 times that of high definition. We can't wait to watch 'Blue Planet 6' on one of these.

4 Better virtual surround sound

Everyone remembers their first surround sound system. Usually it was at a friend's house during your formative years, when they fired up a film and the gunshots on-screen sounded like they were coming from behind you. Instinctively, you looked over your shoulder, only to see something as dull as a speaker.

Still, cool effect, you probably thought.

While surround sound undeniably adds to the viewing experience, it's a pain to fit into your lounge. It usually involves cables snaking all over the floor, speakers in all four corners of the room, not to mention your bank balance taking a pasting. But with virtual surround sound, these are all a thing of the past.

This comes in a soundbar, a speaker that sits under your TV and aims to recreate the surround sound experience. DTS:X Virtual is one technology (as found in the Yamaha YAS-207), though Sennheiser also has its Ambeo 3D audio tech.

Sennheiser's soundbar is only a prototype for now, but more and more models are featuring some kind of virtual surround sound tech. Look out for them coming to a lounge near you soon.

5 Modular TVs

samsung the wall tv

This one sounds like the kind of blue sky thinking that never gets off the drawing board, but it's actually going on sale this year. It's a Samsung TV called The Wall. The idea is it can transform to any size thanks to its modular architecture – that means it can scale down to fit in a tiny wall space, or go big to take pride of place over the fireplace. You just pick your ideal size when ordering, and Samsung will manufacture it exactly to your specifics.

However, don't expect it to be cheap.

6 Feedback chairs

aurasens chair

Big-screen TVs are all well and good, but what if you want something a little more immersive? Enter the Aurasens, a 'high-tech pod' that vibrates in time with what's happening on-screen.

The reclining chair has 32 points of contact with the user's body. It comes with an iPad control system, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a blindfold. Wait, blindfold? Oh okay, that's just for music listening.

It could be installed in cinemas for special viewings, but of course there's nothing stopping you buying one for home use. Apart from the $20,000 price tag, that is.

7 Rollable TV screens

lg rollable tv

TVs take up a lot of space, but LG has come up with a genius space-saving solution: a telly that rolls up like a carpet!

It uses similar technology to the firm's W7 Wallpaper TV, which went on sale last year. That allows it to be flexible enough to bend, flex and – yes – roll up.

The screen can also switch between aspect ratios at the touch of a button, depending on what it's showing. But its rollability is far and away its most eye-catching feature.

8 Next-gen TiVo

TiVo next-gen platform

TiVo recently showed off its new streaming service, which combines cable TV with streaming skills. Called the Next-Gen Platform, it lets you watch content from both cable providers and streaming services like Netflix.

The service works on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices and the Android TV platform. It's only for the US market for now. But if TiVo gets it right, it could be the do-it-all service viewers are looking for.

9 Hands-free kitchen TVs

philips 7703

A TV is a great addition to any kitchen, but immediately there's a problem: how do you use it when your hands are covered in garlic?

Philips has the answer. Its 7703 Series TV features Google Assistant and a built-in microphone so you can just speak to operate it. That means no garlic smeared all over the remote.

Look out for it in the second half of the year.

10 Multiple sports viewing in AR

thirdeye x1

ThirdEye's X1 Smart Glasses effectively plonk a 90-inch HD screen 10 feet away from your eyes. It's also designed to show multiple sports at once, so you could watch football, basketball, rugby and athletics simultaneously.

In all, it can show 16 sports at once. Which would be a godsend come the Olympics.

Don't fancy overloading on sports footage? The extra screens can also display stats, so you can binge on data instead.

It's not just pie in the sky, either – it's due to start shipping in February or March.

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