What is Home Entertainment?

Co-Founder

Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

15.06.2024

16 minutes

From this article you’ll know

  • The evolution of indoor games 
  • What are the patterns in the technology lifecycle
  • Investment and development prospective of Home Entertainment Products


 Vocabulary

HES/HEP  (Home Entertainment System/Product) – A hardware, software, and accessories that work together to provide entertainment in a home environment. Examples include TVs, streaming devices, soundbars, gaming consoles, and smart speakers.

Industrial Prototyping – a process of creating physical models of a product design before mass production begins. Prototypes allow designers and engineers to test form, fit, function, and user experience before committing to final production molds and processes.

Generic replica – a copy of a product that is similar in appearance and function to the original but does not bear the original brand name or trademark. These replicas are often made with lower-cost materials or manufacturing processes.

Middleware – a bridge between different software components in a system. It facilitates communication and data exchange between the operating system (OS) and applications. In HES, middleware can manage tasks like translating data formats, handling network requests, and enabling communication between apps and hardware devices.


What is Home Entertainment

As the term itself suggests, Home Entertainment Products are digital or physical products designed for indoor entertainment. This is a wide range of consumer goods, accounting for almost 300 billion industry and  73 % of all devices produced globally in 2023, and this trend continues to rise. Today, our toys and games have become much more sophisticated, colorful, and user-centric. At the same time, we observe so many niche devices and software catering to any taste, making it no surprise that people spend an average of 9% of their monthly income on HES (Home Entertainment Systems).

A little bit of history

Home entertainment has been a part of the human experience throughout history. Today we don’t paint stones but create amazing works on iPads, and piano parties have turned into Zoom parties or online gaming sessions with friends.

Across the last five generations, home entertainment has evolved significantly, and the pace of this evolution is accelerating due to fierce competition among major consumer electronics producers. Just 30 years ago, the average child might have had 2 devices. Today, that number has grown to 6. However, the trend for adults is different. Adults tend to prefer fewer but higher-quality home entertainment products, such as soundbars, portable projectors, and wireless headphones, that can be seamlessly integrated into their living spaces or easily transported.

 

Entertainment In Different Generations

 

Home Entertainment ecosystem today

If a family with one child plans to renovate their interior in 2024, there will be multiple digital products included in their future image of a perfect home. RedCat did some research on Pinterest, and here we collected an analysis of the average home plan. Just think about how many different hardware devices, and consequently, software programs, are coming into each door.

 

Today, we can’t imagine a living room without a 5 0-inch+ TV, a PlayStation console, and a smart speaker with an AI voice assistant. This assistant can make your coffee via Wi-Fi, open and close smart curtains, and tell you the weather forecast – all in a friendly manner of Mr. Stark, in a friendly and helpful manner of Chat GPT4O.

 

Aside from this, there are so many exciting upcoming devices announced for mass production soon, such as HiMirror Plus or Samsung The Frame. Other great examples are D-Box haptic feedback chair and Looking Glass holographic display.

 

Home Entertainment Ecosystem Today

 


Main types of home entertainment systems

Let’s list the most popular Home entertainment products from the perspective of how many people have them in the world. Here is the list:

 

  • Smart TV
  • Mobile Phone/Tablet
  • Streaming Device (e.g., Roku, Fire Stick)
  • Cable or Satellite TV Subscription 
  • Soundbar
  • Video Game Console
  • Projector
  • VR Headset

 

Another way to approach it is to consider fully software-based Entertainment systems, and in this case, the list looks a bit differently:

  • Streaming Services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  • Mobile Apps (Gaming Apps, Music Streaming Apps, etc.)
  • Web-based Entertainment Platforms + YouTube 
  • Smart TV Apps
  • Social Media Platforms with Entertainment Features (TikTok and Twitch)

 

 

Main Types Of Home Entertainment Systems

 

How it’s all made

Taking into account that the vast majority of home entertainment devices are born in major R&D departments, their life cycle has many things in common. Despite that, there is also an enormous number of startups that introduce many interesting, and sometimes even weird, devices to the world.

 

The reason this dichotomy exists is that in Southeast Asia, countries like Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan, there are thousands of skilled hardware and middleware engineers.

 

Taking an example from our own portfolio, for these projects, the first prototypes were made in Taiwan and then transported to Ukraine. RedCat’s experience shows that before we start mobile or web app creation, it takes 2-4 iterations of hardware changes, 5-10 middleware creation cycles, and a total of one year before software development starts.

Key players in Home Entertainment

As of  2024, 28.7% of Home entertainment devices in the world is produced by these 8 companies. 53.7% of hardware production centers is located in China, but the software part is created all around the world. Interesting, that Home entertainment, where hardware and software manufacturers have an absolute synergy. 

 

Key Players In Home Entertainment

 

Prototyping of HE Product

- Hardware

There are two typical scenarios when it comes to product design. The first case applies to giant companies. Major players, like Samsung, PlayStation, Nintendo, and others, manage dozens of devices in their R&D departments. Each product begins with dozens of design concepts based on market research. The best concepts are then developed into several hardware prototypes, which are tested again. This approach allows for A/B testing while still keeping the look and feel of the next device a commercial secret from the general public.

For smaller companies and startups, the overall production scale is smaller, resulting in a few design concepts and typically one hardware prototype as the outcome. However, this device can still be iteratively improved. Once the form factor is more or less clear, companies proceed to the next stage – Middleware creation by Embedded engineers.

-  OSs

Technically, operating systems, middleware, and applications can all be considered software. But we’ll dive deeper and differentiate each architectural component because they require distinct technical skill sets.

Operational systems (OS) are the core software that provides the foundation for Home Entertainment Systems (HES). Popular examples include WebOS (LG), Android TV (Google), tvOS (Apple), and Fire TV OS (Amazon). These OSes manage hardware resources like processors and memory, facilitate communication between different components like the TV itself and external devices, and offer a platform for running applications.

- Middleware

From a WiFi kettle to a VR Okulus, the variety of platforms and OSs for Home entertainment is enormous. For each device, there are proven platforms from reputable companies, such as Tizen OS for  Samsung or tvOS for AppleTV. At the same time, there are hundreds of open-source projects like this one for anything Linux-based. Another good example for smartTV devices is Roku OS.  

Middlwaree can be different by itself depending on device-interface-complexity composition, but overall it covers such aspects as: 

Middleware’s Role in the HES Ecosystem:

  • Device Discovery and Communication: Middleware allows different devices within the HES to recognize and communicate with each other. This enables functionalities like using a smartphone app to control the TV or a game console to stream content. Protocols like DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) are commonly used for device discovery.
  • Content Management and Delivery: Middleware manages content playback, including DRM (Digital Rights Management) for secure content delivery, transcoding (converting media formats for compatibility), and buffering to ensure smooth playback.
  • User Interface (UI) Framework: Middleware often provides a framework for building the user interface that users interact with to access content and control settings. This could involve menus, navigation, and integration with different applications. Popular frameworks include CEHTML (Consumer Electronics HTML) and HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV).
  • Application Management: Middleware can handle the installation, launching, and management of applications within the HES. This might involve app stores specific to the platform and functionalities for updates and uninstallation.

 

OSs In Home Entertainment Devices 

 


- Third-party Software Applications

Not all home entertainment devices have or need third-party apps. However, the most profitable ones actually do. Let’s illustrate this with an example:

  • A kettle has a simple C-based code and an Arduino chip, and that’s sufficient for its functionality.
  • A 55-inch smart TV, on the other hand, comes with hardware, an operating system (like Tizen, tvOS, or Android), middleware, and a bunch of pre-installed third-party apps.

Around 80% of the revenue in the home entertainment industry eventually flows through these third-party software applications, which are often subscription-based.

Let’s list the most famous and profitable ones: 

 

Home Entertainment Apps

 

Launch stage

As in any industry, there are recurring industry events where manufacturers, game studios, and corporations showcase their innovations, prototypes, and demos of future products. Here are the Top 5 Events in Home Entertainment that take place every year:

 

CES (Consumer Electronics Show),  Las Vegas, CES is the world’s largest tech trade show. Major manufacturers unveil their latest innovations across various categories, including home entertainment products like TVs, soundbars, projectors, and gaming consoles.

IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin), Berlin for consumer electronics and home appliances.

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo): E3 is primarily a video game industry event, but it also features presentations from major console manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. 

The Game Awards, Los Angeles. The event also features announcements and trailers for upcoming games and gaming hardware, offering a glimpse into what’s next for home entertainment.

MWC (Mobile World Congress), Barcelona. A focus there is on mobile technology and smart home devices – smart TVs, speakers, connected appliances, and other products that integrate with smartphone control and voice assistants.

What happens after each “revolution”?

Historically, we had at least 6 genuinely revolutionary products in Home Entertainment

 

  • Television
  • VHS
  • Satellites and Cables
  • DVD
  • Streaming services
  • Cloud Gaming and VR

The last two are still on.

 

But from a perspective of each device in a vacuum after each revolution inevitably faces 3 things:

  • Competitors from other A-players
  • Cheapened hardware analogues
  • Opensource software products

Sometimes the first two challenges happen before a product launch. Still, this is an established way of product development. A-players with R&D bear innovations, while smaller companies copy and optimize the initial idea and quality. 

Trends in Home Entertainment

The home entertainment market is constantly evolving. Here are some key trends to watch:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI). Personalized recommendations based on user preferences, and even viewer interactions during gameplay. We already see this in such apps as PBS Kids and FanDuel.
  • Augmented Reality (AR).  AR could overlay virtual elements onto the real world, enhancing gaming experiences and potentially revolutionizing how we watch movies.
  • Cloud Gaming.  Streaming high-end games without needing a powerful console could make gaming more accessible, which led to the evolution of the business models of GameDev companies. 
  • Smart Homes. Not pure entertainment, but rather u user-centric and friendly environment. Today we already see the first apps all-in-one, where some elements of gamification are implemented. 
  • Things go either smaller, bigger, or thinner. The futuristic design combined with eco-friendly trends multiplied by new materials exploration and cloud computing gives us a projection of how devices will look in the future. 

Conclusion

Remember those bulky CRT TVs with rabbit ears? Or the frustration of rewinding VHS tapes with a pencil? Home entertainment has come a long way, offering an astonishing array of features and content at our fingertips. The next time you settle in for a movie night or catch your favorite show, take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. And hey, if things get too complicated, there’s always the option to just call a friend – sometimes, the classics never go out of style!

About RedCat

At RedCat, we are redefining home entertainment. By leveraging IoT, cloud computing, and AI, we bring the ultimate entertainment experience right to your home.

Feel free to reach out and learn how we can elevate your home entertainment setup.

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Oleksandra Kazemir-Yampolska

Alexandra Kazemir-Yampolska

Co-Founder

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