Physical and Digital UX Fusion

In recent years the design of new tv sets and set top boxes was characterized by a huge simplification of the button layout, also thanks to the introduction of touch surfaces and bigger tv displays.

However, the middle age and senior audience is still using some 30+ buttons remote controls with on/off UI panels and long lists (you may be familiar with the satellite tv guide).

Having the opportunity to redesign the entire experience of  novel live and VOD set top boxes was exciting and very very challenging. Touch surfaces can now be integrated into small surfaces and voice UX is becoming a dominant requirement that scrambles up some of the old preconceptions about TV usage.

Voice and touch UX Remote controls RCUs

UX-UI hangouts with ID

Good design comes from the integration of two commonly separated workflows: physical and digital design are mistakenly taken on different design paths. In a very old fashion conventional thinking way the UI on screen is developed without interfacing with the Industrial Design of the remote.

Reconciling the two practices was challenging but rewarding. It guided the team to develop a flexible button layout that can be easily customized and changed. Flexible membranes are here used to easily change the position and the number of buttons - keeping the "skin" of the remote the touch interface that can be changed depending on the operator's requirement list.

Hybrid and Flexible Design

Larger touch areas are to be considered in case a pointer-like cursor is used in the UI.Some navigation functions can be also operated with the 4 big arrows. Buttons are grouped by area (navigation, Live video control, general) and the remote can be used horizontally as a gamepad due to its ergonomic shape and optional gyroscope.

Channel and volume buttons can be used in this case as double function buttons (up and down, push down for mute on and off). Backlit buttons can highlight the active buttons in specific UI contexts while keeping some others unlit. Less tech savvy users can be guided to use specific buttons instead of trying to push the inactive ones.

This solution simplifies labeling, reduces the number of buttons and reduces the overall BOM and cost of the remote.

Double Travel = Force Touch

For some specific functions a double travel system can be used to simulate a "force" touch for bigger buttons. The same cylinder is used to store two similar pads with different density. The buttons components on the PCB are mounted at allowed distance so the button must be big enough to push them at different times and travel distances.


Multiple design cycles are necessary to refine the best user experience and implement (or cancel) new UI functionalities. Additional attention was put in designing the voice interaction, usually based on top level guidelines provided by Nuance NLR and Microsoft.