Kannuu Makes TV Remotes Less Awful
“It feels like I write this headline every year or two: A new company has engineered a new and better way to enter text.”
I wrote that in 1997. It was the introduction to a story about Kannuu, which made a clever technology that used a four-way controller to quickly enter text on mobile devices. I liked it, but I also predicted that, “It probably won’t stick around long.” Sadly, I was right. The Kannuu four-way keyboard never got traction on mobiles. The current CEO of Kannuu, Todd Viegut, blames the global financial crisis of 2008 (he’s so familiar with it that he just calls it the “GFC” in conversation), and that’s certainly part of it. The rise of smartphones, with their on-screen keyboards, is the other.
But I was also wrong about Kannuu, because the technology has survived, and may well be coming back. This time, though, it’s landing on TV remotes.
Kannuu is a predictive text-entry system. For each character you want to enter, you’re given four letter choices, one each on up, down, left, and right. Plus a fifth for “more options” in the center. As you “type,” the options change based on the most likely words or names you’re trying to find. You can’t exactly touch-type with Kannuu, since the mapping of buttons to characters keep changing, but neither do you need to actually look at the controller to enter text, and it is much quicker to use than the standard full-alphabet menus that most people are familiar with from on-screen search fields in TV-based applications.
It’s a much better idea for TV remotes than it was for smartphones, because you can operate a four-way controller by touch while keeping your eyes on the big screen. The little QWERTY keyboards that have popped up on some remotes don’t make that easy. The Kannuu system relies on a constrained dictionary of potential word hits (shows, actors, etc.); it wouldn’t be as successful as a general keyboard used for messaging.
The Australian company, resurrected from receivership after the GFC by Viegut, who specializes in this maneuver, is announcing partnerships this week with cable TV operators and TV manufacturers. That’s farther than it ever got in the cellular business.
My prediction this time: It’s going to work, at least until tablet- and smartphone-based “second screen” entertainment guides start to replace remotes, or voice search replaces remote keyboards. I think both of these advancements are inevitable, but not for a few years, so Kannuu should be able to have a nice run while it figures out its next move. It’s all about staying just a few cycles ahead of consumer technology, and keeping moving.
The Archos TV Touch Remote (Gdgt)
A message from Evernote
Build knowledge. Share ideas. Get things done. Evernote Business.Back to Top