Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WWCF: 3-D Immersion TV or Live Wallpaper?

Which will come first?

3-D Immersion TV

or

"Live" Wallpaper

Let me start by defining some terms. 3-D immersion TV means a television experience that transcends the current "I am watching something projected before me" to be more "I am in the middle of something occurring around me". I don't know exactly what it would look like other than think of the difference between watching a stage performance of Les Miserables on television versus actually being at the performance seated down front. Now imagine stepping on stage. 

The 3-D immersion experience (3-D I-TV) would have the action truly happening about you rather than just with depth in front of you. Perhaps it would be holographic from a device(s) located on the ceiling and floor. I think it will start with sports and then reality shows with scripted programs in large part to follow. I imagine multiple camera locations/angles such that watching the football game from home will be much like having the best seats in the house where your perspective changes as the action dictates. Imagine multiple Skycams where perhaps you choose your vantage point following the action as best suits you. There would be little worry about an important part of the play going out of screenshot--just turn your head, and you can watch the quarterback getting late-hit as the ball sails down field. 

As for "live" wallpaper (Live-Walls), this is a combination of two ideas I've had for a very long time. When I was young, I dreamed of a spherical room you could step into and suddenly be looking at a 360' x 360' view of some impressive landscape like the Grand Canyon. The camera system driving this video would be mounted on a tall, thin tower. Holding onto this dream, I was then influenced from the early Web's webcams. Molding my concept into a more practical form, I now want walls that will project whatever desirable vista I would like to surround myself with: the beach in Hawaii, Broadway in NYC, the Champs-Élysées, etc. 

Imagine what this technology does for the elderly trapped in their hospital/nursing home/prisons. Imagine how this can transform schools. Imagine how much more enjoyable your current, drab office would be. Sure this will put Big Picture Frame out of business, but the rest of us will be Soarin' Over California from our living rooms. 

The limiting factor for 3-D I-TV is probably technological, but we are getting closer and closer to holograms. The limiting factor for Live-Walls is probably more economical related to the business plan--getting to a critical mass to make the investment using existing technology worthwhile (e.g., using just flat-screen HDTVs). The ultimate desire to have entire walls that act as video screens puts technology as an additional hurdle for Live-Walls. 

I think the critical point for which has come first will be once one of these technologies is common in middle-class homes. The first may seem to face more obstacles, but this might be what "saves" TV. Imagine shopping from your home in a 3-D environment. Imagine the demand for sports and hence sports advertising. The business case for 3-D I-TV may drive its advancement. Of course there is a third possibility: that these two ideas converge in one large step toward Nozick's Experience Machine.

My guess is Live-Walls is coming first and will be within the next 10 years. 3-D I-TV follows within 5 years of Live-Walls' critical mass achievement.