Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Future of Television will be an Immersive, Collaborative Experience: Cisco's Scott Puopolo at OTTCON 2011

This week in a keynote address at the OTTCON Over-the-Top TV Conference 2011 in San Jose, Scott Puopolo, Vice President and Global Head of Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), presented Cisco's predictions on what the future of television might look like in 20 years. Puopolo and his team developed the predictions based on interviews with more than 50 television industry and academic thought leaders who all agreed that almost every aspect of TV will be transformed – from how we interact with the TV; how channels will go away; how the remote control will disappear; how screens will do anything, anywhere and will become the nexus for all our connected, interactive and social video experiences – and move us away from the traditional linear "lean-back" TV viewing experience towards an immersive, collaborative experience in the future that goes beyond the Jetsons cartoon.

Many of the predictions are already evolving today with the explosion of connected devices, 3D viewing experiences, augmented reality, transmedia storytelling, advanced technology of touch screen and gesture driven control of screens that we've seen in futuristic sci-fi thrillers like Minority Report. As an example of what's in store for the future, Cisco says that TV will become a broader and more immersive sensory experience that will go beyond the visual and auditory senses to include the sense of smell and touch. But by far the biggest driver that propels innovation is the growth of online social communities and our need to be connected to them. Social interaction is embedded in many of the predictions of which could likely come to pass in the not-too-distant future.

I caught up with Puopolo following his keynote, where he presented 5 of the 10 predictions from the study, The Future of Television: Sweeping Change at Breakneck Speed, which he said, "offers the first holistic vision of the future across all key dimensions of the television industry and sheds new light on the likelihood and timing of innovation."

On the Cisco blog, Puopolo summarized the 5 predictions he presented to the OTTCON audience:
  • Is It Real or Is It TV? Sensory technology will enable new creative tools for producers and new experiences for consumers. So we’ll not only see Rachael Ray’s brownies -- we’ll smell them, and eventually taste them, too.
  • Screens Do Anything, Anywhere: Instead of buying TV sets per se, viewers will buy multipurpose screens. A screen in a bedroom could display your favorite painting or change into a teleconference monitor when you’re not watching TV.
  • Don’t Just Watch, Get Involved: Viewers will break the confines of the TV episode and interact with their favorite characters in everyday life. They could, for instance, collaborate with other fans to help key characters solve a crime or mystery.
  • Channels Go Away: Soon TV will be customized to your tastes. No more searching through menus to find a show -- the best streaming and on-demand TV will find you.
  • Viewers Kiss the Remote Goodbye: Consumers will use words, gestures, and devices such as smartphones and iPads to control their TVs. You might raise the volume or choose a different show with a simple flick of your wrist.
The 5 others predictions in the study are:
  • Ads Get Personal - you can interact with - In the future the majority of ads will be contextual, highly interactive, and laser-targeted to each viewer.
  • Watch Together, Virtually - TV will be an enabler of social interaction, encouraging group participation at home with remote friends and family. Viewers will experience a sense of community for the duration of the program.
  • Your TV Follows You - Content will be ubiquitous and available to you on any device wherever you are. Consumers will no longer be tethered to a particular device or network, and there will be limited ties to time itself.
  •  “Regular Joes” Go Hollywood - Semiprofessional and amateur film and TV-making will flourish, and decentralized methods to create, fund, and deliver content to the mass market will thrive.
  •  Creation Goes Viral - Content creators will invite consumers directly into the process.
CiscoIBSG produced this video to describe the 10 predictions for the future of television:

While the views among the experts varied on adoption rates of technology most did agreed that pay TV models will evolve and that consumers will have more control of their content experiences. Cisco IBSG believes that the combination of three key drivers—technology, consumer behavior, and business models – will accelerate our vision of the future and bring about enormous changes within the next 5-10 years that will permanently and dramatically alter our television experience.

For the evolving industry of PayTV operators, content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers, media aggregators and service providers, Puopolo said that competition for the consumer will also intensify dramatically.

So, what's the big message in all of this?

Puopolo summed it up in this way:
"The concept of consumer, controlled, increased, immersive, interactive experience is going to be the future of television and the consumption of our content is going to be ubiquitous. We'll be able to access it anywhere, anytime, from any device in any format."
OTTCON coverage: