The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.
Throughout the week, we've taken a look at how digital experiences are becoming an integral part of children's physical play, giving them new opportunities to flex their creative muscles and bring their imaginations to life in exciting ways. We're just starting to see what's possible as developers begin to bring examples of Cross World Play trend to the marketplace, but what are the further implications for the entertainment landscape?
To help us understand what consumers, content producers and device manufacturers can expect, we spoke with Tawny Schlieski, a Research Scientist in Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research group. As a member of the Futurecasting team, Tawny leverages ethnography, technology, markets and imagination to turn pragmatic visions into compelling experiences for consumers and computing. In our conversation, she explains how immersive media is emerging as a genuinely new kind of entertainment, where fully realized, built worlds become persistent containers for many kinds of story experiences and a new collection of tools and practices that enable radically new collaborative storytelling techniques, and compelling new audience experiences.
Tawny Schlieski, Research Scientist in the Interaction & Experience Group at Intel
What are the new consumer expectations around media consumption? What are the most interesting behavioral changes taking place and what's driving them?
Storytellers and fans are increasingly crossing over the old, fixed borders that used to separate them. Storytellers are opening up their worlds to their fans, and those fans are beginning to have real opportunities to play inside their favorite stories. This move toward a shared world enriches both sides of the experience (storyteller/fan). What began as simple social media broadcasts, like tweeting from actors and “characters”, is evolving into some very cool, much more radical new things, like:
- Disney Infinity, a world building game that brings Disney characters to life in a story universe that includes traditional games and open spaces for fans to create and share their own creations. Infinity also pushes into new ways to play together, with physical toys that cross over into the virtual, can be shared and exchanged, and which carry their digital history with them.
- Syfy’s Defiance, a single story world that fans enter through both a TV show and a game. The single world (unlike the traditional movie + game) breaks new ground in telling stories, which share authorship between the professional storytellers and their fans.
- Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, which enables fan fiction to move out of the shadows (unlicensed, basically illegal, tacitly accepted by most authors). The shared revenue model allows authors who are interested in the new immersive forms, and want a more direct conversation with their fans to converse in new ways, and fundamentally extends the worlds of these authors into the immersive space (containers for many kinds of story experiences).
Which technologies do you see having the biggest impact on how people consume, discover and share content?
The technologies to enable genuinely immersive media are emerging, but we have a lot of headroom for improvement.
- Raw Power - Interacting in fully digital environments makes tremendous demands on the hardware and connectivity across the board.
- Seamless Ecosystems - We are just at the beginning of genuine platforms and suites of solutions (Graphics, logic processing, sensors, connectivity) that work together to deliver all work together to create compelling, to in immersive media experiences.
- Natural Interaction Platforms - From gesture to voice, to robust sensors understanding the physical world of the player, immersive media relies on intuitive interactions between fans and their story worlds, and reliable feedback to keep the digital and physical worlds in sync.
- Connectivity - These are digital worlds, and sharing demands connectivity. We can say we have connectivity, but in the real world we don’t. Slow speeds, unreliable connections, overtaxed bandwidth all impede seamless immersion. In the US in particular, just adding bandwidth isn’t a business likelihood, so the efforts of the networking teams to enable existing networks to deliver more and more content make a massive difference to fans.
What Intel projects do you see having the ability to further shift this conversation?
Intel Labs Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) has been working with premier content experts for the last few years, and has a developed a deep and robust expertise in this arena, which they are leveraging to catalyze the growth of this new ecosystem. The current Future of Entertainment program in IXR has partnered with USC to deliver a persistent, robust story world that is at the cutting edge of immersive entertainment. This self-contained storylab is a flying whale (a creature from the NYTimes Best Selling young adult steampunk series, the Leviathan), which currently hosts a massively complex story world, 40 active stories, a persistent crew of 70, a detailed rule driven architecture, and a collection of other “fabricant” beasts). This story platform has allowed us to test many approaches to interactive story, and we will be opening the world up in 2014 for other storytellers to help evolve to our world.
The Perceptual Computing team (PerC) has been working on a suite of robust sensor and camera driven capabilities that are redefining our ability to interact with the built world. The current (and coming) technologies are beginning to allow the seamless interaction between the digital world, and the fans who want to play there.
Xeon and the server team. Raw power is critical for the capabilities our art scientists are imagining in these new worlds. Xeon in the MacPro, and the server group’s partnership with Disney to deliver a seamless, secure, robust experience, driven by massive compute power behind the scenes (and light compute wearables with consumers), is helping to dissolve the boundaries between the digital and the physical story worlds.
As technologies enable more hybrid and immersive experiences that blur the lines between on and offline, how will the entertainment landscape evolve?
As above, we are seeing early expressions of the pursuit of seamless play of fan and creator in examples like Disney Infinity and Defiance. In this new world, the storyteller remains a robust and compelling presence, but the tools of great storytelling are changing, and some early pioneers in the space are beginning to express themselves in completely unexpected ways.
Beyond entertainment, what are the most exciting opportunities around this blending of the digital and physical worlds?
Education is the compelling next step. Robust digital reflections of real worlds, with complex rule-driven interactions are a no-brainer to enable students to experience and interact with complex ecosystems. The persistence of these story vehicles also allows the emergence of the 21st century “museum” – a digital world that constantly absorbs new inputs and new ideas and allows each student to enter the world and learn/experience it in a unique way.
When playtime crosses boundaries between the physical and digital it becomes a truly immersive experience that can capture the minds of children of any age. As we look to the future, it will be exciting to watch how developers, engineers and content producers build stories that bridge both worlds in new and exciting ways and how that changes the relationship between these creators and their audiences. Check back tomorrow as we recap the Cross World Play trend.
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