Winners of the Easy TV initiative — a competition set up for students to make it easier for consumers to use digital TV equipment — were announced last night at the Nesta (National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts) product design and innovation awards.

The initiative, sponsored by the CA (Consumers Association) and the ITC (Independent Television Commission), recognised the need to encourage people to switch to interactive television systems.

"If it's not easy to use, digital television equipment will disappoint consumers and fail to realise its potential," said Michelle Childs, head of policy research at the CA.

Research conducted by ITC showed that most digital TV users thought PCs were easier to use than their TV equipment. By 2005, according to ITC, 50 percent of the population will be over 50 years old, reinforcing the need for simple remote controls and other equipment.

The Nesta first-prize winner was a remote control called Mimo. It is made up of building blocks that allow the user to arrange the buttons on the remote control to suit their needs.

The second award went to Link, a feedback system which gives users instant feedback onscreen so they know exactly what's happening as soon as they've pushed a button. Third place was taken by a virtual listings magazine incorporating touchscreen technology.

Prizes of £1,000 were awarded to all three winning designs.