By Dave Evans 24-04-2014
Let me start with two tantalising speculations about exactly where television might be in 10 years’ time:
One thing emerging clearly right now is that video is no longer just for passive consumption; it has become an interactive experience. Consumers are being bombarded by so many sources of video and content. When you watch television, you often see Twitter posts scrolling across the screen. You may have your iPod or tablet on your lap, to watch something else on a secondary screen. With wearable technology like smartwatches, there could even be a tertiary stream feeding into your entertainment experience.
To cut through all that noise, TV networks are going to have to adapt or die, spending significantly more to make their product stand out. Broadcasters and publishers will have to try harder to create content that is more customised, targeted according to a consumer’s individual preferences, their previous viewing history and where they are at the point of consumption, so that it doesn’t get lost in the competing chatter.
As television becomes more interactive, it will also offer greater opportunities for advertisers. They will devise clever and entertaining ads done so well they seem to be part of the show, so that if you spot an actor wearing a leather jacket you particularly like, or using a new gadget you covet, you will be able to buy it and have it shipped to your home within hours.
And how exactly will we use that extra bandwidth to the home, enabling you to have displays on every wall and, in effect, live inside a giant television set? You could be cooking the recipe shown on MasterChef, which is being streamed to the tiles above your hob.
Today we tend to think of video as something that is on or off, but once you can create a display on any surface, that will change – just as a few years back we used to think of the internet as on or off via dial-up, but now, with broadband, we are connected all the time. Your parents or your children can be with you all the time, and you will only have to walk past the particular wall that acts as your portal to them to stop and say ‘hi.’
Let’s finish with a real stunner: virtual actors. We’ve already seen amazing virtual environments and characters in films like Avatar and Lord of the Rings, but that’s only the beginning. Soon we will be able routinely to augment casts with virtual actors so life-like they will be indistinguishable from a living, breathing human. Take a look at the Digital Emily project, the work of a company called Image Metrics, which has posted examples of its progress so far on YouTube. The results are breathtaking. A virtual actor can do stunts a real actor can’t; they can be killed or dismembered and come back to life. My bet is that within two decades, a virtual actor will win an Oscar.
Why stop there? Virtual actors may even be subtly morphed into a unique cast member designed to appeal specifically to you, based on personal preferences extracted from the available data on you as a viewer and pulling information from your social network.
As they say, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
This article is an extract from UKTV’s 2024: The Future of Television, the full version of which is available at www.corporate.uktv.co.uk