Smart TV

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LG Smart TV model 42LW5700-TA showing Web browser, with on-screen keyboard active; unlike traditional TVs, a smart TV enables the viewer to interact with icons or images on the screen. LG Smart TV web browser.jpg
LG Smart TV model 42LW5700-TA showing Web browser, with on-screen keyboard active; unlike traditional TVs, a smart TV enables the viewer to interact with icons or images on the screen.
A Sony Bravia smart TV showing the home screen Sony Bravia Android TV.jpg
A Sony Bravia smart TV showing the home screen

A smart TV, also known as a connected TV (CTV), is a traditional television set with integrated Internet and interactive Web 2.0 features, which allows users to stream music and videos, browse the internet, and view photos. Smart TV is a technological convergence of computers, television sets, and set-top boxes. Besides the traditional functions of television sets and set-top boxes provided through traditional broadcasting media, these devices can provide Internet TV, online interactive media, over-the-top content (OTT) as well as on-demand streaming media, and home networking access. [1] [2] [3]


Smart TV should not be confused with Internet TV, IPTV, or Web television. Internet TV refers to receiving television content over the Internet instead of traditional systems such as terrestrial, cable, and satellite, regardless of how the Internet is delivered. IPTV is one of the Internet television technology standards for use by television broadcasters. Web television is a term used for programs created by a wide variety of companies and individuals for broadcast on Internet TV.

In smart TVs, the operating system is preloaded or is available through the set-top box. The software applications, or "apps", can be preloaded into the device or updated or installed on demand via an app store or marketplace, in a similar manner to how apps are integrated into modern smartphones. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

The technology that enables smart TVs is also incorporated in external devices such as set-top boxes and some Blu-ray players, game consoles, digital media players, hotel television systems, smartphones, and other network-connected interactive devices that utilize television-type display outputs. [9] [10] These devices allow viewers to find and play videos, movies, TV shows, photos, and other content from the Web, cable or satellite TV channels, or a local storage device.


Smart TVs on display SamsungSmartTV.JPG
Smart TVs on display

A Smart TV device is either a television set with integrated Internet capabilities or a set-top box for television that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic television set. Smart TVs may be thought of as an information appliance or the computer system from a mobile device integrated within a television set unit. As such, a Smart TV often allows the user to install and run more advanced applications or plugins/addons based on a specific platform. Smart TVs run a complete operating system or mobile operating system software providing a platform for application developers. [1] [11] [12]

Smart TV platforms or middleware have a public software development kit (SDK) and/or native development kit (NDK) for apps so that third-party developers can develop applications for it, and an app store so that the end-users can install and uninstall apps themselves. The public SDK enables third-party companies and other interactive application developers to "write" applications once and see them run successfully on any device that supports the Smart TV platform or middleware architecture it was written for, regardless of the hardware manufacturer.

Smart TVs deliver content (such as photos, movies and music) from other computers or network attached storage devices on a network using either a Digital Living Network Alliance / Universal Plug and Play media server or similar service program like Windows Media Player or Network-attached storage (NAS), or via iTunes. It also provides access to Internet-based services including traditional broadcast TV channels, catch-up services, video-on-demand (VOD), electronic program guide, interactive advertising, personalisation, voting, games, social networking, and other multimedia applications. [13] Smart TV enables access to movies, shows, video games, apps and more. Some of those apps include Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. [14]


In the early 1980s, "intelligent" television receivers were introduced in Japan. The addition of an LSI chip with memory and a character generator to a television receiver enabled Japanese viewers to receive a mix of programming and information transmitted over spare lines of the broadcast television signal. [15] A patent was filed in 1994 [16] (and extended the following year) [17] for an "intelligent" television system, linked with data processing systems, by means of a digital or analog network. Apart from being linked to data networks, one key point is its ability to automatically download necessary software routines, according to a user's demand, and process their needs.

The mass acceptance of digital television in the late 2000s and early 2010s greatly improved Smart TVs. Major TV manufacturers have announced production of Smart TVs only, for their middle-end to high-end TVs in 2015. [18] [19] [20] Smart TVs became the dominant form of television by the late 2010s. At the beginning of 2016, Nielsen reported that 29 percent of those with incomes over $75,000 a year had a Smart TV. [21]

Typical features

LG Smart TV using the Web browser LG Smart TV web browser.jpg
LG Smart TV using the Web browser

Smart TV devices also provide access to user-generated content (either stored on an external hard drive or in cloud storage) and to interactive services and Internet applications, such as YouTube, many using HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS) adaptive streaming. [22] Smart TV devices facilitate the curation of traditional content by combining information from the Internet with content from TV providers. Services offer users a means to track and receive reminders about shows [23] or sporting events, [24] as well as the ability to change channels for immediate viewing. Some devices feature additional interactive organic user interface / natural user interface technologies for navigation controls and other human interaction with a Smart TV, with such as second screen companion devices, [25] [26] spatial gestures input like with Xbox Kinect, [27] [28] and even for speech recognition for natural language user interface. [29] Smart TV develops new features to satisfy consumers and companies, such as new payment processes. LG and PaymentWall have collaborated to allow consumers to access purchased apps, movies, games, and more using a remote control, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is intended for an easier and more convenient way for checkout.


Smart TV technology and software is still evolving, with both proprietary and open source software frameworks already available. These can run applications (sometimes available via an 'app store' digital distribution platform), play over-the-top media services and interactive on-demand media, personalized communications, and have social networking features. [30] [31] [32] [33]

Android TV, Boxee, Firefox OS, Frog, Google TV, Horizon TV, Inview, Kodi Entertainment Center, Mediaroom, MeeGo, OpenTV, Plex, RDK (Reference Development Kit), Roku, Smart TV Alliance, ToFu Media Platform, Ubuntu TV, Vewd, and Yahoo! Smart TV are framework platforms managed by individual companies. HbbTV, provided by the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV association, CE-HTML, part of Web4CE, OIPF, part of HbbTV, and Tru2way are framework platforms managed by technology businesses. Current Smart TV platforms used by vendors are Amazon, Apple, Google, Haier, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, LG, Microsoft, Netgear, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TCL, TiVO, Toshiba, Sling Media, and Western Digital. Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, LG, and Roku TV are some platforms ranked under the best Smart TV platforms. [34]


According to a report from research group NPD In-Stat, in 2012 only about 12 million U.S. households had their Web-capable TVs connected to the Internet, although an estimated 25 million households owned a set with the built-in network capability. In-Stat predicted that by 2016, 100 million homes in North America and western Europe would be using television sets blending traditional programming with internet content. [35] By the end of 2019, the number of installed Connect TVs reached 1.26 billion worldwide. [36]

The number of households using over-the-top television services has rapidly increased over the years. In 2015, 52% of U.S. households subscribed to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus; 43% of pay-TV subscribers also used Netflix, and 43% of adults used some streaming video on demand service at least monthly. Additionally, 19% of Netflix subscribers shared their subscription with people outside of their households. Ten percent of adults at the time showed interest in HBO Now. [37]


Social networking

Some Smart TV platforms come prepackaged or can be optionally extended, with social networking technology capabilities. The addition of social networking synchronization to Smart TV and HTPC platforms may provide an interaction with both on-screen content and other viewers than is currently available to most televisions while simultaneously providing a much more cinematic experience of the content than is currently available with most computers. [38]


Some Smart TV platforms also support interactive advertising, addressable advertising with local advertising insertion and targeted advertising, [39] and other advanced advertising features such as ad telescoping [40] using VOD and DVR, enhanced TV for consumer call-to-action, and audience measurement solutions for ad campaign effectiveness. [41] [42] The marketing and trading possibilities offered by Smart TVs are sometimes summarized by the term t-commerce. Taken together, this bidirectional data flow means that Smart TVs can be and are used for clandestine observation of the owners. Even in sets that are not configured off-the-shelf to do so, default security measures are often weak and will allow hackers to easily break into the TV. [43]

2019 research, "Watching You Watch: The Tracking Ecosystem of Over-the-Top TV Streaming Devices", conducted at Princeton and University of Chicago, demonstrated that a majority of streaming devices will covertly collect and transmit personal user data, including captured screen images, to a wide network of advertising and analytics companies, raising privacy concerns. [44]

Digital marketing research firm eMarketer reported a 38 percent surge—to close to $7 billion, a 10 percent television advertising market share—in advertising on connected TV like Hulu and Roku, to be underway in 2019, with market indicators that the figure would surpass $10 billion in 2021. [45] [46]


There is evidence that a Smart TV is vulnerable to attacks. Some serious security bugs have been discovered, and some successful attempts to run malicious code to get unauthorized access were documented on video. There is evidence that it is possible to gain root access to the device, install malicious software, access and modify configuration information for a remote control, remotely access and modify files on TV and attached USB drives, access camera and microphone. [47]

There have also been concerns that hackers may be able to remotely turn on the microphone or webcam on a smart TV, being able to eavesdrop on private conversations. A common loop antenna may be set for a bidirectional transmission channel, capable of uploading data rather than only receiving. Since 2012, security researchers discovered a similar vulnerability present in more series of Smart Tvs, which allows hackers to get an external root access on the device. [48]

Anticipating growing demand for an antivirus for a Smart TV, some security software companies are already working with partners in the digital TV field on the solution. It seems like there is only one antivirus for Smart TVs available: 'Neptune', a cloud-based antimalware system developed by Ocean Blue Software in partnership with Sophos. However, antivirus company Avira has joined forces with digital TV testing company Labwise to work on software to protect against potential attacks. [49] The privacy policy for Samsung's Smart TVs has been called Orwellian (a reference to George Orwell and the dystopian world of constant surveillance he depicted in 1984 ), and compared to Telescreens because of eavesdropping concerns. [50] [51]

Hackers have misused Smart TV's abilities such as operating source codes for applications and its unsecured connection to the Internet. Passwords, IP address data, and credit card information can be accessed by hackers and even companies for advertisement. A company caught in the act is Vizio.[ citation needed ] The confidential documents, codenamed Vault 7 and dated from 2013–2016, include details on CIA's software capabilities, such as the ability to compromise Smart TVs. [52]

Restriction of access

Internet websites can block Smart TV access to content at will or tailor the content that will be received by each platform. [53] Google TV-enabled devices were blocked by NBC, ABC, CBS, and Hulu from accessing their Web content since the launch of Google TV in October 2010. Google TV devices were also blocked from accessing any programs offered by Viacom’s subsidiaries. [54]


In 2017, high-end Samsung Smart TVs stopped working for at least seven days after a software update. [55] Application providers are rarely upgrading Smart TV apps to the latest version; for example, Netflix does not support older TV versions with new Netflix upgrades. [56]

See also

Related Research Articles

Streaming television Distribution of television content via the public internet

Streaming television is the digital distribution of television content, such as TV shows, as streaming media delivered over the Internet. Streaming TV stands in contrast to dedicated terrestrial television delivered by over-the-air aerial systems, cable television, and/or satellite television systems. The use of streaming online video and web television by consumers has seen a dramatic increase ever since the launch of online video platforms such as YouTube and Netflix.

My5 Video-on-demand brand name

My5 is the brand name of video-on-demand services offered by Channel 5 in the United Kingdom. The service went live on 26 June 2008.

Digital media player

A digital media player is a type of consumer electronics device designed for the storage, playback, or viewing of digital media content. They are typically designed to be integrated into a home cinema configuration, and attached to a television and/or AV receiver.

Xumo is an American over-the-top internet television service owned by telecommunications conglomerate Comcast. Founded in 2011 as a joint venture between the Viant Technology subsidiary of Meredith Corporation and Panasonic, Xumo is a free, advertising video on demand (AVOD) service that primarily offers a selection of programming content through digital linear channels designed to emulate the experience of traditional television programming, and supported by revenue generated from video advertisements inserted into the service's programming streams in designated conventional television-styled commercial breaks.


Boxee was a cross-platform freeware HTPC software application with a 10-foot user interface and social networking features designed for the living-room TV. It enabled its users to view, rate and recommend content to their friends through many social network services and interactive media related features.

PlayOn is a streaming media brand and software suite that enables users to view and record videos from numerous online content providers. The suite consists of two main products: PlayOn Cloud and PlayOn Desktop. PlayOn Cloud is an online service for recording digital video streams, accessible via native iOS or Android mobile device applications. PlayOn Desktop is Windows-based software that acts as a streaming dashboard and hub on the PC. The available streaming websites are organized as channels in both products. Users browse through or search the video content found in those channels in order to record the videos for later viewing. PlayOn Desktop allows watching the videos real-time on the PC, or casting the videos to a TV via a streaming device or gaming console.

ITV Hub British online video on demand service

The ITV Hub is an online video on demand service accessible through the main ITV website The service offers a variety of programmes from homegrown programming to imports across ITV, ITV2, ITVBe, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV. Some sports programming is available to watch again via the service, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and highlights being examples. Some programmes, imports and movies are not currently available due to rights issues, and until the latest version, most children's programming in particular was generally unavailable. Programmes are available for 30 days on the site after being first shown on ITV. The service was originally called ITV Catch Up but was then rebranded 'ITV Player' on 5 December 2008 as part of ITV's aim to create a recognisable and consistent brand for video-on-demand content across the web and TV. ITV Player was also branded as ITV Net Player and referred to as the ITV Network Player in branding and communication around programming intended for consumption across the UK, such as on Virgin Media, before adopting the current name.

Viera Cast is a Smart TV platform by Panasonic that makes it possible to stream multimedia content from the Internet directly into select Viera HDTVs and Blu-ray players. It was announced during the January 2008 exhibition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and began rolling out in Panasonic Viera TVs several months later.

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV Industry standard for hybrid digital television

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) is both an industry standard and promotional initiative for hybrid digital TV to harmonise the broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery of entertainment to the end consumer through connected TVs and set-top boxes. The HbbTV Association, comprising digital broadcasting and Internet industry companies, has established a standard for the delivery of broadcast TV and broadband TV to the home, through a single user interface, creating an open platform as an alternative to proprietary technologies. Products and services using the HbbTV standard can operate over different broadcasting technologies, such as satellite, cable, or terrestrial networks.

Google TV (smart TV platform)

Google TV is a smart TV platform from Google co-developed by Intel, Sony, and Logitech. It launched in October 2010 with official devices initially made by Sony and Logitech. Google TV integrated the Android operating system and the Google Chrome web browser to create an interactive television overlay on top of existing online video sites to add a 10-foot user interface, for a smart TV experience.

An over-the-top is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content. It has also been used to describe no-carrier cellphones, where all communications are charged as data, avoiding monopolistic competition, or apps for phones that transmit data in this manner, including both those that replace other call methods and those that update software.

Samba TV is a content recommendation engine and viewer tracking application designed for Smart TVs. The developer, San Francisco, California-based Samba, was co-founded in 2008 by early employees of BitTorrent (company), including Samba’s current CEO, Ashwin Navin. Samba TV develops software for televisions, set-top boxes, smart phones and tablets to enable interactive television through personalization. Through its portfolio of applications and TV platform technologies, Samba TV is built directly into the TV or set-top box and will recognize onscreen content—live or time-shifted—and make relevant information available to users at their request. The service is available only after a user activates it on a device, and is supported by interest-based advertising delivered on the television or on devices within the household. Through APIs and SDKs for mobile application software developers, Samba TV is usable on a second screen or the TV itself. Samba TV applications are currently available on over 30 million screens in 118 countries.

HBO Go was a TV Everywhere video on demand streaming service offered by the American premium cable network HBO for customers outside the United States. It allows HBO subscribers to stream selections of HBO content, including current and past series, films, specials, and sporting events, through either the HBO website, or apps on mobile devices, video game consoles, and digital media players. The service first launched on February 18, 2010.

Yahoo! Smart TV

Yahoo! Smart TV is a depreciated Smart TV platform developed by Yahoo! based upon the Yahoo! Desktop Widgets (Konfabulator) platform. Yahoo! Connected TV announced on August 20, 2008 at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco as the Widget Channel, it integrated the Yahoo! Widgets Engine with a new television oriented user interface to enable Internet connected applications to run and display on a 10-foot user interface. The platform was slowly being abandoned by its manufacturers, and was eventually depreciated. New apps that were based on Konfabulator stopped being added effective March 30, 2018, but existing apps can still be updated and installed, and HTML5 based apps are not affected by this.

Chromecast Line of digital media players developed by Google

Chromecast is a line of digital media players developed by Google. The devices, designed as small dongles, can play Internet-streamed audio-visual content on a high-definition television or home audio system. The user controls playback with a mobile device or personal computer through mobile and web apps that support the Google Cast technology, or by issuing commands via Google Assistant. Alternatively, content can be mirrored from the Google Chrome web browser on a personal computer or from the screen of some Android devices.

Android TV Android operating system version for digital media players

Android TV is a version of the Android operating system developed by Google for television sets, digital media players, set-top boxes, and soundbars. A successor to Google TV, it features a user interface designed around content discovery and voice search, content aggregation from various media apps and services, and integration with other recent Google technologies such as Assistant, Cast, and Knowledge Graph.

Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. Devices containing ACR support enable users to quickly obtain additional information about the content they see with any user-based input or search efforts. For example, developers of the application can then provide personalized complementary content to viewers.

TV is a line of media player software programs by Apple Inc. for viewing television shows and films delivered by Apple to consumer electronic devices. It can stream content from the iTunes Store, the Apple TV Channels a la carte video on demand service, and the Apple TV+ original content subscription service. On iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Apple TVs it can also index and access content from linked apps of other video on demand services.


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