A New TV Remote Control
Created Based on the Voices of a Variety of Customers

Sony has worked hard to add unique accessibility functions to its TVs, including screen reader functions, closed caption /subtitles and text magnification. We are currently placing additional emphasis on intuitive and comfortable functions that can be enjoyed by all users. In the development process, we conduct user research and testing and listen to the voices and needs of those involved. Our new remote control for TVs*1 reflects these customer needs and offers a new level of user comfort.

  • *1The remote control is being introduced to the market in stages starting in spring 2022, and availability will vary depending on the product series, country, and region.
Eiji Sakurada
TV Product Planner
Product Planning Section 2
Display Product Planning Dept.1
Home Entertainment & Sound Products Business Group
Sony Corporation
Sabrina Norton
UX Human Factors Engineer
Senior UX Researcher
Sony North of America
Sanika Moharana
UX Human Factors Engineer
UX Designer
Sony North of America

Gaining feedback from users

Sakurada : Sony places great importance on incorporating inclusive functions that enhance the product experience for a virety of users. In the case of TVs, the user can control the TV in a hands-free manner with the incorporation of a microphone. We make the buttons on the remote controls easy to see and design the remote controls so they are difficult to flip over even when users press the buttons with the remote controls lying on the table. The new remote control announced at the 2022 CES*2 is the result of continuous development activities responding to the needs of a variety of users. It is based on the concept of making TV operation and the experience derived from it simpler and more intuitive, and its overall size is small and it incorporates few buttons.

  • *2Abbreviation for the Consumer Electronics Show held in January each year in Las Vegas, USA, one of the world's largest home appliances trade fairs.

Sabrina : As a researcher, I have been in charge of programs for users with unique needs including visual impairments and hearing impairments and conducted user tests with this new remote control. Although the pandemic meant there were travel restrictions for many people, by communicating directly with them we were able to confirm what users felt about the size and quality of the remote control.

Sanika : Users with visual impairments who took part in our tests had great expectations for the compact remote control with few buttons, as they often struggled to remember the layout of complicated remote controls with a lot of buttons. We were able to obtain positive feedback from them.

Bringing joy to users and their families

Sakurada : Through brainstorming, internal feasibility studies, online user surveys and user tests, we determined what functions to adopt. One of these for the new 2022 remote control is the "Finder" function. By saying, "Hey, Google, find my remote " to a Sony BRAVIA TV with Google Assistant, a sound will emit from the remote control making it easy to locate it. In addition, it uses a blinking backlight to make the unit easy to find even in a dark room.

Finder Function image
a sound emits from the remote control making it easy to locate it

Sabrina : We have all lost remote controls, but when users with visual impairments lose one, it really becomes lost. That's why when we introduced the Finder function, created after listening to their feedback, they said: "You listened to our opinions, didn't you? This was our biggest problem." They appeared to be really pleased and this led to the joy of being able to directly see the results of our work. In addition, we have earned the trust of our users, who appreciate us taking the time to listen to their opinions. Knowing their experience of our products is being enhanced through our development brings us great joy.

Sanika : What I had the pleasure of seeing through the user tests of the simple remote control was how happy they all were to be able to enjoy their favorite programs with their families. The devices I designed allowed them to enjoy an improved experience with their families; we weren't just helping the individual user. It was an experience that was very rewarding for me.

user research and testing

What is the 'Accessibility' that you are aiming for?

Sanika : There is an increasing awareness about accessibility and inclusive design*3, both at Sony and generally throughout the world. I hope that this movement will continue to grow. It may be impossible to make a design for all users of a product, but if we are able to customize and personalize products to match how the technology and devices are used, it will enhance the experience for many more people. I want to continue eliminating barriers for the benefit of people with impairments and create a world where everyone can access media contents in the same way. By doing so, everyone will be able to enjoy technology even more.

  • *3Inclusive design stresses inclusivity by embracing a diversity of product users, including those with disabilities, as shared understanding is incorporated into the design process.

Sabrina : It's important for everyone to be able to use our products with no limitations so that they can achieve a sense of independence and freedom. Most users dislike being a burden on their families and friends. They just want the independence that everybody else has. My vision is to create a world where all people can purchase and use devices, and access various media contents without having to worry about whether or not they can use certain applications or control the settings on their TV.

Sakurada : We wanted to come up with words that could properly express the idea of "Creating a World With No Limitations" that we had been striving for. We came to the conclusion that what we wanted to achieve was simplicity for everyone. Products usually come with a wide variety of functions that give people many choices and options. Of course, they are convenient, but they are confusing at times.
We should be constantly asking ourselves questions about our products and thinking about whether or not they are truly comfortable for everyone. I hope that we will listen to many opinions, as well as conduct repeated discussions, tests and surveys so that we move toward better products and a better world, and create "simplicity" for everyone in the true sense of the word.

The development process is an inclusive one that places importance on exhaustive research of users with a broad range of needs, as well as listening to their voices and experiences in order to create Sony's Accessibility Moving forward, it will continue to be incorporated into the business of the Sony Group around the world so that we will be able to generate rich and comfortable experiences for all people.