Why No, I Don’t Want To Control Netflix With My Hands, Thank You Very Much

Remember ‘Minority Report‘? After that movie came out, tech developers seemed to lose track of everything that wasn’t a fancy hands-on interface. This started out simply enough, with an increase in the amount of touchscreen phones hitting the market. But the new range of motion control products takes it too far.

There’s a reason things are described as “easy as pushing a button”. Pushing a button just might be the least amount of physical work that it’s possible to do. I feel safe in saying that there is no one on earth – excluding those with disabilities of course – who thinks that pushing a button to change the channel is a difficult process. It’s the single most efficient way to do anything. The only way to improve upon it is to make a better button, or maybe thought-controlled remotes.

Motion controls may look good on paper, but in reality they’re just a painfully slow and difficult way to accomplish something simple. It’s like running, or hunting with a bow and arrow, or getting movies from Blockbuster. Those were once essential to survival, but now they’re only done for fun or adventure, or because a Blockbuster is closing and the sales are really good.

Take LG’s LX9500 line of televisions, for example. If you’re so inclined, you can forgo the remote and operate the television’s controls without the need to hold a plastic device. Instead of having to push a button with your thumb or finger to raise the volume, you simply lift your arm into the air, make the appropriate motion, and hope that the television recognizes this. What could be simpler?

Now consider Microsoft’s Kinect. It’s an exciting device that’s almost certain to have great applications – but sorting through my Netflix queue isn’t one of them. Why bother tapping the bumpers and left analog stick a few times when you could wave your hands around like a lunatic? There’s even playback control with Kinect. Instead of hitting the start button to pause the movie instantly, you’ll have to hold out your hand until the device registers it for long enough that it knows to stop. Talk about inconvenience. Give me my remote back!


  1. JoeRo

    I agree fully here, and I’d even take the argument one step further, which is to say that pushing multiple buttons is much easier than waving various body parts around to play a game. I do think the Kinect has potential for the fitness game genre, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other developers come up with outstanding motion-based games either, but dashboard/netflix controls seem a bit much.

    Apparently there will also be voice recognition for playback commands, which could have hilarious unintended results when it picks up voices other than “the guy in charge”. Seriously how will the Kinect know who is the person in charge and who’s just screwing with the person in charge by repeatedly yelling out voice commands.

  2. Yeah, I perfer my controler. I find Netflix on the Wii aggrivating. Let me use the control pad and buttons. The Wii is hooked up to the SD tv in the bedroom. Not a comfortable way of controling Netflix while laying in bed. While my sensor bar does overhang the TV, I still find myself having to do a slight situp, and do weird hand gestures to pause the movie. At least they let you use + and – buttons to scroll your movies

    • JoeRo

      I don’t even like using a controller for movies, feels too weird to me. I have dedicated remotes for both the 360 and the PS3, which adds undue cost of course, but I just feel like a savage using a game controller to navigate movie menus.

    • Turd Furgeson

      “I find Netflix on the Wii aggrivating. Let me use the control pad and buttons.” … “At least they let you use + and – buttons to scroll your movies”

      Oh good, problem solved.
      As well, you can navigate using the Directional Pad Up/Down = Categories, Left/Right = Titles.
      Further, most people don’t realize that you can even navigate the Home menu screen with just the D-pad. The user can get around on any menu without the use of motion, something that is quite misunderstood on the Wii. Most people believe that it is a motion-only device.

      As for a device like Kinect, there are no options for using buttons. This is a UI idea which is doomed to fail. Also think about this problem in terms of PC navigation. Who in their right mind would prefer to hold their arm out and wave it around [or make gestures] when now you are able to navigate by moving or tapping a touchpad [like Apple now does very well] to navigate more efficiently and without effort.

      This is a very relevant article, and I hope people really think about these things before they lose extreme amounts of money to figure things out the hard way.

  3. Jane Morgan

    You have never seen my mother with an ordinary tv remote. It’s like watching a car crash.

    Kinect technology, built into the tv, voice and gesture, could become a beautiful thing for many people.

    To this day, my younger sister refuses to touch a game controller. This is a real barrier.

    I will stick with buttons. But I’m a professional.

  4. You know, my mom’s the same way, but I get the strange feeling that she’d be just as bad when it comes to Kinect.

    Still, I’ll have her give it a go when it comes out this year. Might make for an interesting experience!

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