Orchestrated Media and genres
Last week, we looked at the background around Orchestrated media (OM), and bringing you up to date with work that R&D has been doing on these lines. Here we look at how OM may enhance the experiences around various programme genres. As you can imagine, this extends well beyond technology considerations ...
The OM team looks at technology and enablers required to create OM experiences, and discusses with colleagues beyond R&D about possible editorial propositions, and considers the future technology landscape and market activities and how it may affect OM.
Accessibility research has stimulated a lot of thought around OM experiences. The OM team worked very closely with the Accessibility team to create the Universal Control API initially for DTV accessibility, which we then extended for synchronising media across the TV and companion devices, and for interactivity.
Synchronising content across broadcast and IP is a big topic in its own right, which again various colleagues in R&D have been considering for awhile, and which the OM team is continuing, for example using IP-based events or audio watermarking.
Other teams in R&D put together prototypes, such as AutumnWatch to better understand the possible experiences, and consider the user experience and behavioral aspects of these. The OM team piggy-backed off this AutumnWatch work adding in Universal Control to enable a two-way TV - companion device experience.
R&D have also worked with the Royal College of Art on media services for the home.
Beyond R&D, other colleagues consider how to design editorial propositions around dual-screen.
Playing with time
Some set top boxes support the ability to play back content at various speeds, forwards or backwards (including speed 0 - paused). The content is VoD (pay-per-view and catch-up) and off-air content that has been recorded locally for watching later (time-shifted).
The box may support similar for content delivered via the currently tuned-in channel (pause and rewind, and fast-forward until it tries to exceed the current point in the broadcast).
This capability raises interesting questions for OM experiences, both technical and editorial. For example, if a game is sync'd to the TV and the viewer rewinds, should the companion device follow or not ... you don't want to re-present an already answered question. The designer of the experience needs to decide what makes sense and the system would need configuring as to how it reacts. If there is an intimate link between the TV and the companion device, whereby the companion knows at all times exactly where the TV content's play head is currently, then more control over the experience is possible. But if the synchronisation is based on audio watermarking for example, then decisions are needed how to handle this technically ... sit and wait for the next expected event? Monitor for previous events?
The way this is handled will be genre-specific, both technically and editorially.
If the companion device wishes to control the TV's rewind etc, for experiences that use symmetric synchronisation, then the TV must expose this functionality somehow. R&D uses our Universal Control API for this purpose.
Applicability of OM to genres
The BBC's charter is to entertain, educate and inform through its content, to bring public value.
Games are an obvious form of social entertainment ... a TV content-aware game can synchronise its own content and the interactions it offers with game segments in the TV or radio show. As the show unfolds, you play against the studio audience and your family and friends.This requires asymmetric synchronisation: the game content on a companion device slavishly follows the TV program. This sort of OM experience we refer to as a dual-screen experience. It's very powerful, and synchronisation can be achieved without additional software on the TV. If the TV content is played , the content-aware game follows. The current Secret Fortune pilot is an example of this, which we discussed in last week's OM blog.
Live sports programmes are another great form of social entertainment, where synchronised content can really enhance the experience, such as offering statistics about players, athletes, teams during the event, and offering the ability to "video-mark" goals and so on, for sharing and later replay via social OM ... the latter would require symmetric synchronisation.
Symmetric synchronisation opens up many more opportunities, especially for educating and informing. If you think about these activities, they typically involve your (and maybe your friends) own deeper inquiry into the subject matter, be that news, wildlife, science, music and so on. There are often mental-pauses, -rewinds, and -diversions to consult related topics. Hence, if you could control the TV content that stimulates these activities in an analogous manner this may enhance the TV experience and provide more value to you.
Symmetric synchronisation enables this to affect the TV's actions. With suitable TV content-aware services on your companion device and control software on the TV, you can deeply explore topics related to the TV content back and forth in time, in a semantically deeper-shallower manner. The TV content follows the implied navigation back and forth, and the TV displays other content selections for the wider exploration. Imagine if the BBC's archive were fully digitised and made available for search and selection (sadly, content rights stand in the way of this happening in its entirety, not to mention the shear labour involved in this process).
The challenge here is one of standardisation for missing functions to be built into TV and radio devices, but also for simple access to these functions to make life easy for developers working with content creators.
Linear TV creates a strong social experience. People enjoy sharing the viewing experience. Live Sports really engages friends and family in a big way. But the other genres mentioned above also have the capability to support shared educating and informing.
If there is social chatter surrounding a show (or segments of it), then the TV content can be repositioned back and forth. The companion's TV content-aware service linked with social media can filter that chatter to discussions around the segment of the moment on the TV. This could be a dual-screen experience. For example, after a holiday, you could watch catch-up TV and automatically follow what your friends had to say about it on your mobile.
With symmetric synchronisation in the equation, we can do the opposite ... embed content markers into the social chatter, and by replaying the chatter, the TV replays the associated content.
Inter-device application interactions
An area of future exploration lies in understanding the opportunities around TV apps and (remote) companion device apps interacting with each other. This enables family-interactions, and social interactions, potentially aggregating the results on the TV, for example, indivudal scores for a family-game played against a broadcast game show.
We'll take a look at the current state of in-home digital services, and in particular the problems for device- and service- interoperability.