It’s not just ADD-addled teenagers stabbing at their smartphones while “watching” TV anymore — it’s all of us. (What does refreshing my Twitter feed do to improve my experience of watching 30 Rock? Don’t ask.) Meanwhile, “web TV” experiments like Google TV have gone over like a lead balloon with consumers. Syzygy Lab connects these dots into a concept product that actually makes sense, even if it’s horribly named: Their GOAB tablet app will turn your iPad into the interactive smart TV remote of your dreams.
The designers’ central insight makes total sense: Why disrupt the one thing TV does perfectly well — showing big pretty pictures — with a bunch of onscreen interactive doodads? And with TV audiences flat and aging, why not make TV more enticing by lashing it to its chief competitor, the Internet?
Now that everyone has an all-purpose, interactive screen within arms’ reach 24/7, it makes sense to offload everything but the picture onto a handheld device rather than junking up the TV screen with more information. GOAB will let you search, swipe, and tap through channel and on-demand listings just like you do with every other kind of media these days. It even has an ingenious (if slightly ominous-looking) feature where you can browse by tag — “funny,” “thrilling,” etc. — by tapping the labels and dragging them into this big black-hole-looking thing on your iPad, which coughs up the requisite content on your big screen.
But GOAB doesn’t stop there — after all, if you’ve got someone lap-surfing a giant iPad screen during the big hockey game, you might as well take advantage of that extra visual real estate by displaying interactive versions of all the chartjunk that usually clutters up traditional sports broadcasts. And no “next-gen” media thingie would be complete without a social-networking element, of course — which GOAB supplies in spades, in the form of little grid squares containing live feeds of your far-flung friends. (Note: if you’re using this feature to interact with friends you actually have in the room with you, you’re doing it wrong.)
Additional features pegged to interactive advertising and branded content (“buy what you see!”) will no doubt make Madison Avenue types (of the near future) drool. GOAB’s just a concept for now, but it does offer a tantalizing image of a new standard in TV watching — and one that could solve so many of that old medium’s business woes.