Features of Interactive Television

Below are some of the many features of Interactive Television :

Distance Learning

Interactive Television will make it possible for people to educate themselves on all sorts of topics, in their own living room, at their own pace and in private. People can learn to read, see what Saturn looks like, find out what the government is upto, and much more!!.

Distance Learning :

In order for the teachers to successfully use the distance learning network, they must not need training on special training methods, or need to modify their teaching plans or limit the teaching materials. However, the learning material has to be in modules.

A good feature is for all the students to see all other students and the teacher at any moment in time. This provides the most involvement by all the students and allows the teacher to judge the students more easily. In order to do this, cameras can be used to transmit the presentation. The audio quality (of the speakers) must be excellent. The audio system must provide a clear transmission of questions with as least noise as possible.

Figure 1

Information can be sent in two ways :

Several experts think that Distance Learning will be available on mass scale within the next 10 years. Below is a quote from Bates A.W : (1993) Educational aspects of the telecommunications revolution in Teleteaching North Holland : IFIP which is from :

"The implications for education and training are immense; learning can be independent of time and place, and available at all stages of a person's life. The learning context will be technologically rich. Learners will have access not only to a wide range of media, but also to a wide range of sources of education"

Figure 2 : Different types of Learning Technologies

A system called Live Interactive Television is being used in Edith Cowan University, Churchlands, Perth. Live Interactive Television uses live programs which contain an interactive element - viewers can communicate on-air with the presenter. The instructor is able to ask questions and challenges to the viewers during the program. It is a form of talk-back TV. The interactive element enhances the learning through the television.

Live Interactive Television is used for applications such as :

Live Interactive Television has a number of strengths :


Another interesting topic is telebanking. Until now, payments were made using traditional payment mechanisms like regular bank-accounts, credit cards details etc. Now Internet users can open a special electronic cash (ecash) account to pay for web-services.

Below are the more popular methods of payment :

The reliability and security of the system

Interactive television can be used for important things like paying for services, telebanking or other services that work with important or confidential data. The system must be reliable and safe from interference from anyone. A scrambling system is applied to a television signal to ensure that it is only receivable by the person(s) for which it is intended.

There are two basic types of scambling system :

Another problem is with voting from home. There are a number of issues relating to this subject :

There are also problems associated with telebanking. Two of the most important aspects of electronic cash systems are security and privacy. Electronic cash is very hard to protect and could even damage the clients privacy. It is essential to pay attention to the effect that paying with electronic cash has on:


An important aspect of security is the prevention of the double spending of ecash. Ecash is nothing more than a few bits. Banks must disable users to spend duplicated coins.

When an e-account client withdraws cash, the user's software randomly chooses serial numbers of the electronic coins and includes a blinding factor. The bank will encode the blinded numbers and leaves the bank's validating digital signature on the serial number. When the user copies the coins, he has two coins with exactly the same signed serial numbers.

To prevent the coins from being intercepted by criminals, digital signature techniques are used. These techniques are complicated and technical.


Because the use of information technology is increasing rapidly, people fear that their privacy is at risk. The ecash system, designed by DigiCash, gives the payer his/her privacy. When paying with ecash the identity of the payer is not revealed automatically. This way the payer can stay in control of his/her personal information. During a payment a payer can of course reveal identify, but only when he/she chooses to do so.

The Future

Interactive Television will revolutionise the way we watch TV. The viewer will be able to participate in some or all aspects of the program as if they were on the show. A completely new type of programming will evolve to take advantage of this added interactivity.

Live Interactive Television is a form of interactivity but real interactivity will be found in the future where viewers can participate even if the program isn't live.


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Copyright Keval Pindoria 1996