Add sports media to the list of early technology adopter companies alongside the military and porn industries!
ESPN and Electronic Arts have joined forces around the ‘Virtual Playbook’ to shake up the world of broadcast media by launching a new era of immersive mass media experiences.
In recent years sports based games have pushed the evolution of 3D experiences, but now ESPN is bringing football analysis into the era of 3D Augmented Reality. This Fall, ESPN commentators will interact live with realistic 3D virtual NFL players. They will stand next to life sized scale 3D players as they demonstrate based offensive and defensive patterns.
Gamers are obviously thrilled and NFL viewers are likely to become bigger fans of sports commentators able to navigate a virtual landscape of players.
Now that we are witnessing the first mass media application of augmented reality, it becomes easier to build a futures road map looking at the convergence of drivers that support augmented mass media experiences.
We can see clear developmental lines of commercialization with 3D software (ray trace rendering, 3D authoring etc.), hardware (terahertz chips and video servers) and display technology (thin film, flexible OLEDs and high def projection systems) and interface standards (gesture, smart object and motion based interactions).
Thanks to ESPN, we have now jumped to major hurdles – viable business models around convergence of 3D software, gaming and virtual world companies with broadcast media. And the biggest barrier with the most uncertainty – People! Specifically mainstream TV viewers.
Entrepreneurs can now start imagining the unique applications. When might students use augmented reality to create reports – immersing themselves in history scenes or building cities? When might kids insert themselves inside a Dora the Explorer adventure? Or aspiring athletes play the world champions in an immersive experience that makes Wii tennis look like 8 bit pong?
When might technicians and engineers use augmented reality to work collaboratively long distance? Could Home Depot or our plumber walk us step by step through the bathroom project?!
The list of mainstream applications is exhaustive. And the convergence of technologies is within sight. There is no need to overstate and ‘hype’ augmented reality, or bow to naysayer skeptics of tech adoption. Augmented reality is much more appealing and functional than a pure virtual world experience. And it could give a boost to TV broadcasters desperate to stay relevant.
3, 5, 7 or 10 years is not too far off for mainstream applications at work and home! But how do we get there?
Coming soon to your living room: a wild safari in the scorching
African savanna starring you, armed with nothing but your camera.
Afrika is the next step in a generation of video games
that seek to become more than just entertainment and can actually
make you smarter.
the latest game by Rhino Studios, is set to be released in Japan on
the PS3 in late August. You play it from
the perspective of a nature photographer and naturalist armed with
a Nikon stalking realistic wildlife in painstakingly recreated
savannas. The photos you snap are saved like a lexicon, or
Africa-pedia, where you can read up all about the real facts of the
animal. The PS3’s multi-cored cell
is being utilized to is fullest potential to recreate the complex
AI and behavior of the animals in
mirror world fashion, and it’s is just one of many in the
increasing trend of video games that are as educational as they are
made to be entertaining.
Because the game is not about rifles or grenades, it is perfect
for younger children who can learn about Africa’s wildlife in a
fully immersive 3D world rather than a bread-and-butter textbook.
And what a field trip it is without all the expenses and dangers of
But using video games to teach isn’t a new idea. An all-girls
high school in Japan have already been using Nintendo DS’s to
teach English. The verdict? The students feel right at home with
the new devices. Katie Salen, a game designer and director of the
graduate Design and Technology program at
Parsons School of Design, is leading the way in using video
games as a foundation for education for an accelerating world. Her
goal is to open a school based on gaming literacy.
Contests have been picking up steam thanks to the web and new social media technologies. Their next generation could facilitate an increase of economic output, innovation, happiness, leisure time and broader social efficiency.
Games and contests are powerful frameworks for idea and behavior selection that have played a big role in the human learning process. Because communication is key to organizing large complex games, it should come as no surprise that the rapidly quickening web is catalyzing an explosion in competitions of all sorts, including robust new innovation contests. It’s interesting to contemplate how these might evolve as bandwidth and web intelligence continues to accelerate over the next decade.
It can also be argued (and I am doing so) that web powerhouses like Digg and Stumble Upon, or even RSS Lists like Techmeme (many tech bloggers customize their content to increase the likelihood it will get picked up here) are fundamentally contest-based. The cool part is that they also represent a big leap forward in web content organization.
That being the current state of things, how can we then expect contests to evolve over, say, the next 10 years?
Contests as Work: As the web gets more reliable, robust, and broad, people will perform more work via remote connections. It will then become possible to add effective, proven contest structures to these efforts (think the next generation of contest sites) that will reduce the need for oversight and up prouctivitiy and output.
Invisible Contests: As the web gets better at quantifying human behavior, certain companies, groups and governments will want access to this data. One way (out of many) of getting at this data will be hosting contests that people can win (wholesale or incrementally) and benefit from on a regular basis. Just do what you do, and if you do anything that the system really likes (perform an efficient new search algorithm, fall into a personality category ideal for a certain study, etc), it will reward you for it. This way you can be playing many games without having to divert your focus from your interests.
Hierarchical Contest Structures: Companies like Google already have a game-like hierarchy built in to their corporate structure. Expect these models to evolve as new companies based more exclusively on gaming are born and then scale. It is possible that such “automated” companies (with the right human and software assets) will be able to move far more quickly than traditional companies.
Arik Hesseldahl at Business Week wrote a very interesting article about how the iPhone and iTouch could possibly compete with the big-wigs of the gaming industry.
“For the last few days I’ve been sampling some of the games available from the iTunes Store on the iPod Touch, and I’ve been stunned at how elaborate and involved they are. On the iPod Touch I’ve played a version of Gameloft’s Real Soccer 2009 that rivals the version of the game on the Nintendo DS, and I didn’t even miss the buttons.”
And it’s true, the gaming experience on these mobile devices has gotten so good that people are able to play networked games such as Quake 3 on them.
But the fact of the matter is, like video, playing games on a screen the size of a pack of cigarettes isn’t going to do much damage to the gaming industry. It’s going to be years before the iPhone can reach the same processor capability to match, for instance, the XBOX 360. The gaming consoles themselves are also much cheaper than an iPhone and are capable of streaming High Definition to colossal TV screens.
If you haven’t put Prototype This! onto your Tivo account yet, do it. In one of their latest episodes, some of the team try out tracking body movement using camera recognition of symbols instead of that silly looking Gollum suit we’re so familiar with.
The amazing thing about this is not only is the technology and software needed very simple compared to a lot of motion capture tech today, but if programmed right it could track you by your clothing. And while currently you might need to wear a suit covered in patterns the computer is already programmed to follow (maybe a Tron Guy suit?), eventually it could detect places on our bodies and use them as markers. That mole on your arm? Plaid pajama bottoms? Earring? All will help identify your position and aid in tracking your movement.
This could be a big deal for the gaming and cellphone industry.