My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Web TV and 3-D TV - towards a more interactive immersive television experience

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Web TV and 3-D TV - towards a more interactive immersive television experience


Since the introduction of leisure time in the early 1900’s with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, people have had more leisure time on their hands.

However, this will not be a thorough history lesson, albeit I am a History Channel buff. We have now reached a point in our human history in the 21st Century where we have a plethora of entertainment resources that occupy our empty non-working hours, from the traditional Radio, Television and newspapers to recorded media, be it on hard drives, DVD’s and Blu-Ray or on the Internet, as recorded information is merely being streamed or downloaded for viewing by the user.

But as the Internet matured from the Dot Com Bubble days of venture capitalists pumping millions into companies without a brick-and-mortar setup as was the case in the 90’s, we shifted away from the Web 1.0 of GIF (Graphics Interchange Files) and basic HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to a more immersive and interactive Web 2.0 as it is called.

Improved security, more embedded Videos, Audio and improved Video and Audio content upload and download, effectively the Internet that we know today, which is soon to improve thanks to the implementation of HTML 5 that supports embedded music and Video playback.

This interactivity as far as I am concerned, has ruined the Internet for people like myself, who were quite content with just being able to access the Internet for information on websites and send email. But with the coming of Google and the rise of Social Networking sites such as Hi5, FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and FourSquare as examples!

Uses have been found for all this improvement in Video and Audio rendering as well as the dramatic increases in Broadband speeds and as such we are in a Golden Age in our world, where most people interact mainly over the World Wide Web, which was originally developed to allow real-time sharing of information among scientists in the early 1960’s.

Early signs of this can be found on reading the research note by Morgan Stanley intern Matthew Robson, aged fifteen (15) years old, which he wrote in 2009, entitled  How Teenagers Consume Media: the report that shook the City”, printed by the Guardian Newspaper, Monday 13 July 2009 10.23 BST, The Guardian.

Makes for interesting coffee table reading……..

This increased Internet interaction has resulted in people thus spending more of their leisure time on computers and mobile devices, the latest growth area for Telecoms Providers as hinted in the article “Boom times ahead for mobile Web access”, published  Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:05AM EDT  By Daniel Silva, AFP, PhysOrg.

You can not only have your Social Network with you wherever you go, but you can also get to stream and download your Video and Audio content embedded in news, email and Social Networking websites. These websites mostly makes their money from advertising embedded in their webpages, the bread-and-butter of Fortune 500 Companies such as Google since the late 1990’s.

Now with the advent of Social Networking, Behavioral Targeted Marketing, where information collect by Social Networks is sold to Third Party Advertisers so as to target users with ads tailored to their tastes.

This as research by the NAI (Network Advertising Initiative) reveals that targeted advertisements have a 6.8 % success rate of turning a browser into a buyer as opposed to 2.8 % for non-targeted advertisements, as stated in the article “Study: Like it or not, behavioral ad targeting works”, published March 24, 2010 9:01 AM PDT by Caroline McCarthy, CNET News – The Social

This is done on their Social Networking Profiles.

Thus, in the eyes of young people there is no need among young people for the archaic Broadcasters and their Radio and Television stations and newspapers, whose shows are not relevant to them and whose advertising is not tailored to their likes or dislikes, a general trend now captured for the first time by the 2009 MRSL All Media Survey, which has now begun capturing information on Internet usage.

Though not on the use of Web TV and Streaming Radio, Downloaded Podcasts and Videos and online publishers, which is now urgently needed, as suggested by Marcia Forbes in her article “Twitter, Twits and Tweets”, published Thursday 22nd April 2010 by Marcia Forbes, The Jamaica Observer, in which Mrs. Forbes appears to have lost some of her marbles and regained her youth in exchange by going onto Twitter.

Suggestion to Marcia Forbes: also try out FaceBook and FourSquare, when it eventually has geo-location information for Jamaica.

However this research piece is not about Social Networking’s rise and how it is funded by venture capitalists and advertisements earnings. It is about what the traditional Broadcasters, Radio and Television and Newspapers both here in Jamaica and the United States of America have in the “skunk works” to deal with the lackluster interesting their offering.

Newspapers can now breathe a sigh of relief, as their savior, the Apple iPad has come as stated in the review “Early reviews: iPad is 'beautiful', 'blazingly fast', 'has a touch of genius'”, published Wednesday April 1 2010 by Ben Patterson Yahoo! News as this now marries Video, Audio and news (that’s text by the way) content on a portable device that is both 3G and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) compatible.

Thus companies like Marvel can return to its roots as a big seller of its published comic book heroes both past publications and fresh new material on this new media platform as stated in the article “Comic Book Publishers Plot comeback via Apple iPad”, published Wednesday April 7, 2010 By Douglas MacMillan, Business Week - DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT. The New York Times is also betting on the Apple iPad as the means for its revival and Hulu is looking to serve up content on the Apple iPad.

Radio and Television might also be saved by this one device, as its introduction has brought out a lot of other companies also working on a tablet device, such as HP and it HP Slate as stated in the article “HP preps its would-be iPad Killer, the Slate” published Tuesday Apr 6, 11:13 am ET By Ben Patterson Yahoo! News and the Microsoft Courier.

Thus, competition will drive prices of Netbooks down as stated in the article “iPad, tablets expected to dampen Netbook sales”, published April 6, 2010 8:17 AM PDT by Lance Whitney CNET News – Crave and " Netbook Sales Sag as the iPad Arrives” published April 7, 2010, 12:27AM EST By Cliff Edwards, CNET News – COMPUTERS as these new devices capture consumer’s interests.

Here in Jamaica, Radio and Televisions savior is the as yet completed DSO (Digital Switch Over) from Analog to Digital broadcast as stated in the “Slow road to digital switch-over  - Cable groups mum; Flow ahead but network coverage behind”, published Saturday  August 15, 2009 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

DSO is not only more spectrally efficient but also cheaper to maintain as each broadcaster in both Radio and Television would have only one (1) channel as opposed to multiple channels or stations based on geography spectrum allocation.

Even cheaper, is that they could user a Telecoms Provider’s Wireless Broadband network to carry the HDTV Radio and Television Programming, to be decoded by a Receiver Box, effectively allowing Broadcasters to make money by reselling Wireless Broadband Internet Service from Telecoms Providers.

Examples such as Digicel’s Wimax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) or CLARO or LIME’s 3G much as Time Warner Cable is currently doing as alluded in the article  Time Warner Cable to resell WiMax Service”, published July 30, 2009 11:55 AM PDT, by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Wireless.

Thus with Wireless Internet acting as the carrier for the HDTV broadcast offerings, Broadcasters would also be able to introduce VAS (Value Added Services) that make their Radio and broadcasting services more web-like as stated in the article “Cable TV: Pushing to Become More Web-like”, published April 16, 2009, 5:00PM EST  By Tom Lowry, BusinessWeek – Strategies. VAS services such as:

  1. VOIP (Voice over IP), Data Backup and File Transfer Services using Digicel’s DataCenter as stated in the article Digicel diversifies - $500m data centre opens November”, published Friday August 28, 2009 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.
  2. Video Calling, most likely using Skype with the Telecoms Providers acting as a “dumb pipe” as alluded to in the article “Skype on TV: Will the Videophone finally be reality?” published March 2, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Erica Ogg CNET News - Circuit Breaker,
  3. Instant Messaging via Television,
  4. Interactive Television Programming as suggested in the article Cable TV: Pushing to Become More Web-like”, published by April 16, 2009, 5:00PM EST by Tom Lowry, BusinessWeek Strategies, Paid-Per-View Programming
  5. Online Voting for scientific statistic polls
  6. Election Voting for Government of Jamaica
  7. Personalized Targeted Advertising
  8. Geo-Location Services and Personal Tracking Services
  9. Augmented Viewing Services, Phone Directory Services
  10. Market Surveys
  11. Channel slots for other broadcasters among other service offerings.

Even more possible is the provisioning of Web TV, which is cheaper and requires only that the user have a modem and subscribe to the service, allowing password and login access to a Web TV site that allows for the customer or subscriber to watch TV shows on demand

As is the case with Hulu or the deal inked by Time Warner and Google’s Youtube as stated in the articleTime Warner, YouTube ink distribution pact”, published August 19, 2009 12:34 PM PDT by Larry Dignan CNET News - Digital Media.

The Government of Jamaica via the Broadcast Commission can also implement a Radio and Television Tax to subsidize the cost of the receiver box and thus get Jamaicans to register their ownership of their Television sets, critical to the provision of the above VAS services, similar to those that can be offered by a Telecoms Provider.

An even greater attraction to Broadcast Television would be the introduction of not only 3-D Televisions as stated in the article “Samsung, Panasonic start selling 3-D TV's this week”, published Tuesday March 9 2010, 11:04 am ET, By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Write, AP, Yahoo! News.

Whose introduction and acceptance are predicated on the success of the James Cameron Oscar nominated 3-D flick Avatar and hence the phrase the “Avatar Effect” but also coming 3-D content. Hollywood Studios are fully onboard, turning immediately all of their animated content into 3-D movies, with live action feature films being done at the time of shooting.

Even movie studios across America are retrofitting for the expected surge in 3-D movie content as stated in the article Alice opens with $116.3 million, a 3-D record, published Monday March 8th 2010, The Jamaica Observer and more HDTV set makers such as LG and Sony are joining the bandwagon to sell 3-D TV’s.

Some of the same set makers recently partnered with Skype to make their HDTV offerings Broadband friendly by pre-embedding Skype VOIP Video Calling software into the HDTV sets as stated in the article “Skype on TV: Will the Videophone finally be reality?”, published March 2, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Erica Ogg CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

Already 3-D content will be a feature of ESPN’s FIFA World Cup on a new channel specifically for 3-D content, set to debut in June, around the same time Sony plans to launch its line of 3-D enabled HDTV. Mainstream acceptance, however, seems to be about a year from now, as stated in the Video “CNET News”, aired April 9th 2010, by Brian Cooley, CNET News as currently for a First Generation Technology.

Its “wow” factor and unique delivery of content makes it a sure hit, but it also is somewhat expensive and thus falls into an early adopters market, has little or lackluster content support, both in terms of Video games and Television content

The main “buzz kill”, if you will, are the glasses, which are thick and annoying to wear and you require separate glasses for separate Television sets, which is only natural for its debut. 3-D Glasses Portability (should I start campaigning for that from now?) will result in increased interest in this device.

Even better if the glasses looked like regular glasses or were made into fashionable accessorized glasses by support by some leading brand makers such as Miu Miu, Ray Ban or Dolche and Gabbana with a little help from SMT (Surface Mount Technology) to miniaturize the electronics Technology to fit into the frames of regular glasses and use the wearers electrical charge to power the device.

Expect also Technology to make copying of Blu-Ray content impossible to view if the viewer does not have the right glasses Technology, as DVD’s are being phased out and stronger protection being placed on Blu-Rays, this time taking into account the impact of Internet downloading and stronger file and physical media encryption incorporating the glasses to protect content.

Thus the benefits of DSO and 3-D outweigh any possible perceived fallout that the broadcasters suspect will result from DSO as not only will it result in the modernization of the Broadcasters, it also will be a financial windfall in terms of VAS and the resale of the spectrum and “white spaces” to the Telecoms Providers.

This is to be used to provide High Speed Data services that are unencumbered by metallic or steel structures that normally absorb higher frequency Radio waves as alluded to in the article TV white space Networks tested”, published February 24, 2010 4:06 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength

Even for the Newspapers, allowing for the transition also of the newspaper companies into a cheaper paperless form on either the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader or the recently launched Apple IPad, set to launch in the summer of 2010.

Possibly by then, the Light will dawn upon the people in Broadcasting and by extension the Newspapers and result in the transformation that will make them realize that their ill-placed fears about the transition to Digital are a hindrance to the greater riches that await them on the other side of the Digital Divide.
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