CES: Now you can draw on your TV set

By Cory Bergman Comment

Samsung just announced the winners of its Free the TV Challenge — a $500,000 contest to inspire developers to create apps for Samsung TV sets and Blu-ray players. The winner of the $200,000 first prize is “We Draw,” an interactive drawing game.

To play, you download an iPhone or Android app along with corresponding the Samsung TV app. As players draw on their touch-screen phones, it simultaneously appears on TV. Players guess what other players are drawing, and the TV app keeps score.

In second place in the contest is GymBox, on-demand workouts. Third place, Armchair Astronaut, which lets you explore the planets in HD. And the people’s choice award goes to Numote, which may be the most interesting of all — a social TV guide that combines “TV check-ins” with a program guide. As you watch shows, you can see if any friends are watching, win badges, and see what TV shows are trending.

(No, that Twitter Ticker app we wrote about didn’t win.)

Samsung says it’s approaching 1.5 million app downloads with 300 TV apps on its global market. In 2011, two-thirds of Samsung’s TV models on the market will be connected sets. “The key to a successful TV app is its relevance to the TV,” said Samsung’s David Steele at this afternoon’s press conference at CES. “It’s not a race to get the most apps, but setting the path to get the right apps.”