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Design-House Notion have pieced together a puzzle that they believe is the next wave in Social TV. The Meta Mirror is a concept, a culmination of one design house's passion in the Digital Home space and how they see TV becoming social... There is an ongoing debate as to whether media in the living room should be powered by the internet – using ever increasing speeds to feed rich HD content, or instead by the existing television infrastructure – already omnipresent in homes around the world. Yet, this debate focuses on technology, and in doing so neglects the most important aspect of the television experience, the viewer. It is this stakeholder, the protaganist in the act of television watching, who we must represent as designers.
So let's hear the pitch...
Our recent activities in this space have given us a wide-angle view of the television watching experience. Analysing new technologies, behaviors and viewer expectations, has allowed us to identify new opportunities. When these opportunities are filled by products which enhance the viewers experience rather than interrupting it, we get one step closer to truly next-generation television.
What is happening in this picture??
In many ways the argument regarding what technology drives the future living room is irrelevant. It is unlikely, given the behaviors that now permeate these environments, that any one infrastructure is going to monopolize the provision of content.
Looking at this image, mindful of the fact that this scene is now synonymous with contemporary television watching, should help us to highlight some key behavioral observations:
TV is a communal experience.
The paradigm of communally viewing a single event is and always has been central to the TV viewing experience. The 10 foot distance is how the experience is defined. The audience regard the image from a distance.
Web is a personal experience.
In opposition to TV, our experience of the web is very personal. It is is all about tailored interactions. Favourites, avatars and comments all define identity and choice.
TV screens are getting crowded.
In a race to flood us with content, broadcasters are giving less and less real estate to the actual programme in question. Major sports games are overlayed with statistics & scores, while exchange rates and breaking news headlines all compete for space on any given news channel.
Television drives internet behavior.
It is a broadcasters prerogative to drive traffic to their own websites. URLs are now commonplace both during and after every piece of programming. In combination with the multiple devices now present, this introduces a very direct path from programme to further content.
TV is being supplemented.
We have become accustomed to two-way interaction with our devices. The television is by nature, one-way. The behaviors listed above supplement this uni-directionality, increasing the levels of interaction between user and content.
What are the converging technologies??
Running in parallel with these behavioral changes is a series of technological developments, some of which have reached viewers, some of which are imminent.
Often hypothesized about but quickly becoming a reality is Internet Protocal Television, IPTV. GoogleTV have entered the market and will undoubtetly bring this technology, facilitating searchable on-demand programming, to the masses. It is estimated that IPTV will hit 68 million households worldwide by 2014 (Source: Strategy Analytics).
Capacitative (touch sensitive) surfaces, now evident on even the cheapest of devices, have reached ubiquity.
Optical fibres, already becoming commonplace in mainland Europe, are in some cases facilitating 1GB download speeds directly into homes. Rich, full quality HD content is fully enabled.
It’s fair to say that RSS and XML feeds are the backbone of the internet.
This frames the television viewing experience as it currently exists in terms of both the user and the various technologies involved. It’s through this familiarisation and analysis that new opportunities can be mapped – opportunities which are grounded in real user needs. MetaMirror is our response to these needs.