We spoke to Libby Miller about Tellybox and the Something Something app.
Can you sum up the Tellybox "Something Something" app?
This is a voice prototype. Ask for "something funny" or "something dramatic" (or anything starting with the word 'something') and it will try and find a match for you.
TellyBox involves lots of prototypes - why did you develop this one?
Our research suggested that people often don't want to go to the effort of choosing a particular programme but just want something that fits their mood right now. Voice is an easy way to do this - and we've not seen any other apps that let you search in this vague way using your voice.
Can you tell us more about the Tellybox project?
It began by us asking a sample of people why they watched TV. Often their response was not about a particular TV programme itself. Instead it was about wanting to hang out with their friends and family, or just to relax. What stood out for us was that TV applications actually make it difficult to have a relaxing, happy time, especially with others, because they make choosing really difficult!
Choosing between many options is hard. Choosing when you are also taking into account what others want as well is even harder. If you get thrown loads of difficult-to-compare options all at once, then it makes it more difficult still. How often have you scrolled endlessly through Netflix or Amazon trying to find something?
None of the on-demand TV platforms help with this problem. They often suggest that having lots of choice will make it easy to find something to watch. It's actually the other way around. It will be harder to find something, and you are less likely to enjoy the process of choosing when there are many options. And you will probably also miss out on the best stuff because you'll get fed up with looking. Personally I get ‘search fatigue’ very quickly, but our research showed that I'm not the only one who finds it difficult - and is this is also backed up by decision theory.
So in Tellybox, we focused on this idea of choosing: how to make it easier and more fun, whether you are alone or with others, and in a way that also finds interesting TV for you - perhaps programmes you might not have found otherwise.