Smart TVs – the line between personalisation and privacy

If you have bought a TV in the last few years, it’s almost certainly been a ‘smart’ TV – integrating internet and web 2.0 capabilities to provide a personalised entertainment experience.

However, this modern, highly personalised experience has often come at the cost of our privacy. The current generation of smart TVs are hugely dependent upon the capture of in-depth consumer data to create fluid, personalised experiences for their users.

Data sponges

When you first set up most smart TVs you will have to create/log in to an account for that particular brand. The device needs to know your name, address, location, contact details and more – and often already knows this through the logins, cookies, and general activities you’ve shared with that brand.

The device will then use AI algorithms and sensors to learn your behaviours and preferences, adapting the experience to you. Many have built in microphones and cameras, allowing for voice and gesture activation and the capture of data. In many cases, these sensors will be ‘always-on’ – burning power in anticipation of any stimuli within sensor range.

Data collated by these systems and sensors is then transmitted to the cloud. The more the TV is used, the larger the profile becomes and the better tailored its responses will be.

In this manner, your TV – and the brand – get to know you. They can greet you by name, have you back on Netflix within no time, and can even check in on your emotional wellbeing.

Finding a balance

While convenient, this is enough to give the average consumer pause for thought. People’s homes are their safe space – opening it up to being monitored and consumed by manufactures and advertisers is disconcerting.

There’s also cybersecurity to consider, with both Wi-Fi, and the cloud vulnerable to well-documented security risks. A skilled cybercriminal could potentially intercept your login data and gain access to other devices in your home, opening you up to everything from identity fraud to ransomware attacks.

However, you can’t just switch off data collection without crippling the TV’s smart feature set, rendering many of the features that you’ve paid for useless. With no consumer data, smart TVs would start to fall short of the bespoke experience that modern consumers expect – while bombarding you with requests for access to that data.

This isn’t a healthy balance of privacy and personalisation. People have the right to care about their privacy and should have the option to personalise their experience without security concerns, or the invasion of their privacy for commercial gain.

The future of the smart TV

As a result, we’re already beginning to see AIoT-ready processors enter development that would imbue the TVs with intelligence in and of themselves.

This new generation of processors will enable an even smarter TV that can collect value-adding data from user behaviour without communication with the cloud. User information will no longer need to be transmitted outside the home, protecting consumer data and affording greater privacy to users.

At XMOS, we aim to spearhead the new generation of truly smart, AIoT hardware. Our xcore®.ai hardware and xcore-voice reference design are just two of the tools that manufactures can use to make TVs smarter.

Starting with voice today and extending to ‘always aware’ local processing solutions in the future, XMOS technology is designed to empower manufacturers to innovate and meet the needs of their customers in a timely, sustainable, and cost-effective manner.

If you would like to discuss our offerings further and discover how we can enable you to develop next generation smart TVs, please contact our sales team using the button below