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Bid to make smart TVs even smarter

Couch potatoes will be waving, pointing, swiping and tapping to make their TVs react in the not-so-distant future, similar to what Tom Cruise did in the 2002 movie Minority Report.

That is the vision of TV manufacturers as they show off smart TVs at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The sets will recognise who is watching and will try to guess what viewers want to see. They will respond to more natural speech and will connect with smartphones in a single touch.

The idea is to make TV watching easier and more pleasant as viewers are confronted with more and more choices - from the hundreds of live TV channels from the cable or satellite provider to online video services such as Netflix, Hulu and Apple's iTunes.

A traditional remote control that lets you flip through channels one at a time suddenly seems inadequate.

At a speech this week, Samsung president Boo-Keun Yoon said the company was developing "TVs that have the power to create the ultimate lean-back experience".

But do not worry about "Big Brother" looking back at you. Manufacturers such as Samsung will allow motion-capturing cameras to be pointed away.

There are some safeguards in place so that the TV would not misinterpret casual conversations or gestures as actual commands. You would need to press a button before giving a voice command, and you would need to stand still for a few seconds and raise one hand before an on-screen cursor would appear for gesture commands.

Paul Gagnon, a TV analyst with research firm NPD Group, said these technologies are still in their early days.

"Most interaction I've had with gesture and voice control ... it's not real great right now," he said. "Right now, a lot of people in the industry are just trying to explore the possibilities."

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