Yesterday's innovations are today's must-haves. Revolutionary ideas, morphed into physical creation, are items we cannot imagine going a day without: a smartphone, your tablet computer, or even things a bit more basic, such as a garage door opener, remote car starter, or even your TV remote control.
If I think back far enough, I can remember a time when I would have to get up off the couch and walk over to the television set to change the channel during my Saturday morning cartoons. When I have children, this will probably be incomprehensible to them. We live in a time of instant access to information, with news, entertainment, banking, shopping, and more, literally under our fingertips. With a couple of swipes of the finger, you can transfer money to a bank account, read about the latest happenings in the war in the Middle East, watch that episode of your favorite TV show that you missed last night, or even buy a classic car off E-Bay. We are so used to such high-end technology that we don't even think twice about the handy device that falls between couch cushions, gets chewed by your dog, or hidden by your children. But with the recent passing of Eugene Polley, inventor of the TV remote, it is important to reflect on such an innovative creation.
Here in Connecticut, we have several local television news affiliates: NBC Connecticut, CBS Eyewitness News, ABC, and Fox CT, among others. And with just the click of a button, you can surf them all from the comfort of your favorite chair. If one isn't covering your neighborhood, just click your way to the next channel, and on you go. The birth of the TV remote brought with it the age of channel surfing, muting those annoying commercials, and more recently the ability to fast-forward when watching pre-recorded programming.
Mr. Polley's idea of remote channel-changing undoubtedly altered television consumption habits forever, and eventually, the habits of media consumption in general. Initially, the remote control allowed audiences to consume more TV from more sources, all at once - almost like television multi-tasking. Even in present time, those who have yet to jump on the DVR boat still attempt to watch multiple shows at once by switching between commercials. As the remote control progressed in design and functionality, the expectations of viewers began to morph as well. The remote control wasn't a luxury; it was a necessity. If we are able to consume television in a newer and better way, what else can be invented to enhance our consumption of entertainment and news? We are, after all, a high-demand audience of all sorts of media. We want it all, we want it fast, and we want it now. Be it television, the internet, cell phones, or even our cars, we want our devices fully-loaded with capabilities to deliver anything and everything. It is easy to see the path Polley paved; from the ability to change a TV channel remotely birthed a concept which lead to future innovative technologies. Today, you can pay your bills, buy furniture, earn a college degree, and order your groceries - all without leaving your couch.