Archive:10-foot user interface

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In computing a 10-foot user interface (also sometimes referred to as "10-foot UI", "10-foot interface", or "10-foot experience") is a software GUI (graphical user interface) designed for display on a large television (or similar sized screen) with interaction using a regular television-style remote control.

"10 foot" refers to the fact that the GUI's elements—i.e. menus, buttons, text fonts, and so on—are theoretically large enough to read easily at a distance of ten feet from the display (which in this context is normally a large-screen television). To avoid distractions and to be more clear, 10 foot UIs also tend to be very simple and usually only have the minimum core buttons.

Typical examples of popular 10-foot user interfaces are HTPC (Home theater PC) media center software applications such as Google TV, MediaPortal, XBMC, Plex, Boxee, Windows Media Center and Front Row / Apple TV interfaces, but most other Smart TV and set-top boxes devices and software with interactive television interfaces also belong in this category.


Common setting for the 10-foot user interface is a home theater or living room with surround sound speaker setup. The distance between viewer and TV varies, but is typically 10-feet with a 32" or larger big-screen television display.

"Ten foot" is used to differentiate the GUI style from those used on desktop computer screens, which typically assume the user's eyes are less than two feet (60 cm) from the display. The 10-foot GUI is almost always designed to be operated by a hand-held remote control. The 10-foot user interface has extra large buttons with menu fonts that are easily read and navigated.

This difference in distance has a huge impact on the interface design compared to typical desktop computer interaction when the user is sitting at a desk with a computer monitor, and using a mouse and keyboard which is sometimes referred to as a "2-foot user interface".

Common design guidelines

Here are a few design guidelines which should be considered when designing a 10-foot user interface compared to a 2-foot user interface.

  • User input and Navigation - Support for a standard remote, which is the generally preferred input device for a 10-foot GUI.
  • Display and Design - Regardless of the video output device, at a range of 10 feet it is very important that all fonts and UI graphics are large enough for comfortable readability (anti-aliased fonts will generally offer better readability). Check size of all UI elements, avoid single-pixel thick horizontal lines or static UI elements with single-pixel detail as older televisions and low-resolution displays may simply not display such fine detail, and content will flicker if running on an interlaced display mode since a single row of pixels will be visible only half the time.
  • Installation and Miscellaneous - The 10-foot experience places the display across the room from the user, and therefore anything that requires the user to physically interact with the interface and forces the user to get up and cross the room should be avoided.