Humble Beginnings

With the recent death of Eugene Polley the inventor of the wireless remote control, I was wondering what his drivers where for the invention.

In 1956 how many channels will there have been and how much functionality was in a TV ?  With todays plethora of channels and TV’s with features many users do not know how to find let alone use, what would this have been like without a TV remote.

Yet, Polley determined that he would create a remote control with basic functionality for a specific technology, but with an interface that could be used by any user.  I think this is at the heart of the initial success.  Here was a piece of technology that did not need any training, but fulfilled a very basic need. (Even if it did mean your TV changed channel of its own accord when it was sunny).

Today’s remote controls can control multiple devices and indeed we can purchase remote controls with that very feature, being paramount in the feature list.  We have TV’s and other devices which offer multiple features that are intended to trigger a requirement in end users.

I know the biggest task is maintaining sufficient capacity on my digital TV box, where the family have clicked record series and before I know it we have 100 hours of viewing.  I know my son will record every European Cup game, and then watch the highlights from the games on YouTube (at least if his viewing habits of Match of the Day are  anything to go by).

However, none of the features we have today could have been possible without the humble beginnings of the remote control.

Here is the crux of the issue with ISO 15926.  While we can use it to integrate with any number of applications, this is not the initial path to success.

A simple set of features with an interface that is hidden to the user.  In fact if we implement ISO 15926 correctly a user should not even be aware that there is any additional requirement.  There are many papers on the power of the semantic web, but it is the challenge of Business Analysts to identify the “gaps” in interoperability and select a technology which fulfils the business need.

It will be interesting to identify the costs of a point to point solution compared to a platform such as ISO 15926.  Just as the first remote controls had a single end point, so a point to point solution will only handle a single transfer.  I do not believe this is the way to cater for future integrations.  Only by investing in a platform which is designed for interoperability will we be able to quickly integrate additional business functionality which delivers benefit to the business.

Select a simple function, but think ahead, this is the start of your interoperability roadmap.

There are plenty of examples where ISO 15926 projects have kept it simple and seen benefits, just as there are plenty of projects which have dived straight into complex issues and succeeded.  However, despite Polley not aiming to make a complex control that worked with multiple devices, this did not prevent the remote control being at the heart of our everyday lives.


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