Industrial designer Yves Behar of Fuseproject has unveiled a television set-top box that includes a remote control with no buttons (+ slideshow).
Designed by Fuseproject for American company Fanhattan, The Fan TV system allows users to search live cable TV channels as well as recorded shows and streaming services through one interface, so they can easily find something they'd like to watch regardless of whether it's on cable or the internet.
The two parts are styled like pebbles and automatically align when stacked thanks to concealed magnets.
The Bluetooth remote control has a smooth touchpad with 200 sensors so users can navigate menus, change channels and control volume settings, without looking down, through a series of swipes and taps.
It's deliberately not possible to just punch in channel numbers, but there is an on-screen keyboard for search.
The user interface design departs from the usual grids and time slots of TV menus, instead offering users a way to explore by scrolling through genres, actors, channels, what's trending or what friends have recommended on social media.
A search for a specific show might bring up options for the latest episode being broadcast now, episodes from this series that have been saved to the cloud-based storage and episodes from past series available to stream, plus reviews and soundtracks.
Fanhattan already has an app for search and discovery of TV shows for streaming and this week made public a web service. The Fan TV device, however, will rely on partnerships with cable TV companies that have not yet been announced, though the device is scheduled to become available later this year.
"Everything about Fan TV is about cohesiveness between hardware and user interface," says Fuseproject. "While others still look at these elements separately, Fanhattan and Fuseproject partnered at every step of the creative process to build the ultimate entertainment experience."
At Dezeen Live last September, Yves Behar spoke about designing hardware and software as a cohesive whole, explaining how he's set up a user interface group bringing together UI and industrial design at his San Francisco studio and adding that "Apple is actually a little bit behind in that area."
Apple, meanwhile, is rumoured to be working on a TV remote control that's worn as a ring on one finger for the highly anticipated Apple television, set to launch later this year.
The Fan TV has been two years in the making and was unveiled at D: All Things Digital conference in California this week, where Behar also launched new brand August with a lock that's controlled via a smartphone rather than keys.
This isn't Behar's first foray television interface design: in 2011 Fuseproject launched a product that allows users to control their TV via their smartphone, called Peel Fruit, with hardware to relay the signal to the television set that was shaped like a pear, orange or apple. In 2008 the studio developed Le Cube, a TV receiver, remote control and graphic interface for French broadcaster CANAL +.
Here's some more information from Fuseproject:
Television and movies have been stuck by hardware and interfaces that are frustrating un-designed experiences. Fan TV has crafted the deepest and most magical experience, an easy and cinematic way to discover and watch all content.
At fuseproject, we have worked incessantly for the last two years to build a cohesive physical experience as well, a set top box and remote that change the game. The remote has no buttons and a touch surface, fits in the hand and is small in size. The cable box and the remote look like two pebbles, they physically connect through magnetic touch points that magically re-align both parts.
At its core, Fan TV is about you – about fans getting the most out of their entertainment. Instead of a clunky cable box or DVR system hidden in the cabinet, Fan TV is designed for display. The small remote responds to the subtlest touch, simply tap or swipe to navigate your movies and shows.
Mimicking nestled stones, the box and remote fit together with the use of magnets, ensuring the remote has a place where it can be found again.
Our branding work and our industrial design is influenced by the simplicity of the offering, a zen-like experience that stimulates discovery through a cinematic looking database of all the world's movies and shows. The magical touch interface on the remote, the simplicity of the packaging, and the way all of these elements come together. Whether it is your favorite new TV show or old movie, Fan TV strips away any complications and just lets you watch.