It is a fact that home entertainment has evolved significantly in the last few decades. People over the age of forty will have memories of watching low-resolution televisions which did not even have remote control units to change the channel. There were no “on-demand” films; instead, the viewer would need to consult the TV programming schedules and ensure that they were ready when a film came on. During the mid-nineties, entertainment took a massive leap forward when the internet started to become increasingly available to consumers. Many people had home PCs and used dial-up connections to access information and entertainment online for the first time. Today, there is a wide range of home entertainment products that are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This article describes two of the most recent developments in home entertainment with an introductory section on the micro technology that powers them.
A word on microchips
Firstly, it is important to realize that almost every piece of home entertainment technology now relies on microchips to make them function. They are composed of silicon and have an immense number of transistors that produce the integrated circuit function. Put simply, without advanced modern microchips, smart TVs, home PCs and almost every modern household device would not function. Microchips were invented in 1959 by AmericansJack Kilby and Robert Noyce and this development changed how technology could be produced and how sophisticated its functions could be.
1. VR gaming headsets
Video gaming has changed considerably in the last decade, and it is now the most popular form of home entertainment, with an estimated 3.26 billion gamers worldwide in 2023. The latest gaming releases on next-generation platforms. such as the PlayStation 5, offer photo-realistic graphics and an immersive experience that mirrors that of the best Hollywood films. However, virtual reality gaming is steadily growing in popularity and VR headsets can now be found in millions of homes around the world. By using a VR headset for gaming, the player is transported into a fully realized 3D world, which can be explored and interacted with. Hand controllers are used to navigate the environments and the headset gives a full 360-degree view of the gaming world. At present, most VR headsets are not as powerful as dedicated gaming consoles or gaming PCs, but the technology is evolving quickly. It is expected that within the next decade, VR gaming will be the most popular way to experience videogames.
2. Movie and TV streaming
As most homes now have their own high-speed internet access, movie and TV streaming services are now a common way to consume entertainment. The most popular platforms for this entertainment are Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Both services offer an extensive catalogue of top-rated movies and TV series which can be viewed on demand from a range of smart devices. Faster internet download speeds have allowed streaming to take place in high definition or even in 4K resolutions. All that is required to access this content is to download the streaming application to a suitable smart device (smartphone, laptop, tablet or smart TV) and pay a monthly subscription to access the content. In short, movie and TV streaming platforms have revolutionized the way in which people watch digital entertainment.