Asgard awaits: Analyzing the entertainment model

Gratuitous shot of Chris Hemsworth as Thor

So. Movies. Specifically, action ones (but any, really). I just indulged in 3D Imax Thor, good enough entertainment – shot a little too much with “angles” for gratuitous 3D impact, but overall beautiful and surprisingly sweet.

I’m just sorry the actual screen resolution is still so low….and that the 3D is a bit wonky. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an improvement in the “embedding” yourself aspect of being entertained, but why am I still faking 3D with cheap plastic glasses, and too low resolution on 2D screens?

Why am I not being surrounded with at the very least, a curved screen, and optimally – sitting in the middle of the action with a visor that put me into the movie? Whatever happened to the promise of virtual reality? The gaming industry is going there. I understand that it would require a tech revolution in filming technique (360° vision required), but as so much of the environment on screen is currently created with Cad-like programs anyway, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

I realize those owners of huge real estate housing large screens have a good reason to *not* go there, but entice viewers to shell out $15 (!) for the “big screen” experience, but to be honest the small visor / virtual reality version would look better.

And the established film creation industry has similar interests in keeping the status quo.

So while I understand the legacy industry players have a vested interest in keeping the seats filled, I wonder if there isn’t any room for other players to innovate the space? Particularly since other players in the entertainment industry are starting to create original content.

Instead of the current model (entertainment companies make a movie, which is turned into a game), how hard would it be for the game companies to create their own original movies / entertainment with a game-like interface? Or other players who don’t have a vested interest in the existing interface?

I’m not underestimating the amount of effort it would take to launch a completely new entertainment model, but I don’t think there’s a lot the established industry could do if a well financed, concerted effort was made – in partnership with the visor / hardware companies. It sure would be a really interesting space to innovate.

I’ve consciously kept this post reasonably attainable, because where I think really interesting development is, is in true interactive virtual reality so you’re not just watching from the vantage point of the producer but are free to interact with your surroundings in any way you want.

This would open a whole new world of commercial applications – from eliminating the need to travel (you can do that trip of a lifetime, without the food poisoning or uncomfortable beds) to simulations for any activity the requires any physical training (fire, police, pilot, race car driver, etc). You could actually walk through Asgard, sit on the throne, walk through the halls.

Reminds me of a “living theater” experience in Manhattan recently told me about: the entire building is made up of rooms, each of which has a part of a story line being acted out. You choose to sit, engage, walk from room to room, create the experience you want while being transported to a crime scene a la Agatha Christie.

It makes sense that people who are – by the time the technology arrives – spoiled for personalized experiences they dictate themselves, instead of ones foisted upon them – would prefer this type of entertainment. So: a merging of the gaming industry and movie / entertainment is inevitable.

Throw in augmented reality so that interactions in your daily life can be enhanced with game-like features, and the convergence is 360°. I have to admit, the idea of actually interacting the Chris Hemsworth – albeit, virtually – an enticing one! 

Reality, what is it really? Exploring Augmented Reality

I love the concept of augmented reality. I mean, isn’t watching Avatar in 3D Imax so much better than the gray reality when you come home to look at your walls?

Don’t you love the colors! – and can’t you feel your muscles twitching as you mentally jump from psychedelically colored palm frond to palm frond along with the Navi?  When I got home after the movie, all I could do is stare at my (boring) walls and wonder “where are my white floating squids?” Uch. Reality is tough, gray, cold – well, “real”.

But seriously, I think augmented reality has the potential to be the next mass (and I mean, MASS) addiction after social networking.

Currently every discussion around it seems to focus on the information it will bring…as interesting as it would be to have directions overlaid onto my wanderings (directly into my retina, or indeed – the optic nerve at some point) I think another obvious application is more akin to gaming in nature.

Your neighbors, the Smiths.

Imagine you’re just in one of those moods, and instead of having to look at all the “regular” faces you pass on the street (gray, dour) you could instead decide that today is “sea monkey day”. Seriously, you’re in the mood for sea monkeys. So you program your “sea monkey setting” into your yet-to-be-determined data input module and voila! Everyone has a sea monkey head.

It’s the ultimate version of beer goggles.

The program could generate facial differences by interpolating from real faces, or by pulling data from various public profiles (the sentiment analysis of your current Facebook status interpolates: “bad mood”) and an unhappy (but potentially, comical) Sea Monkey face is projected. Etc. etc. You get the picture.

An additional idea would be being able to set your own markers so that AR programs interpret your data in a certain way that day. In a flirty mood / want to chat? Advertise with a certain color (how about, green face = available). We could color code the world and communicate without any words at all. After all, if our information from a wide variety of sources is going to be broadcast anyway (ref:, why not control what we put out there in this way?

This could be seriously addictive. And seriously lucrative from an entertainment merchandising standpoint. Think about it: Now I don’t have to just leave the Navi behind when I get home, I can superimpose licensed Navi images on my whole day. All I need is some giant pond fronds (why not my office chair??)

It makes sense as part of the “personalization” trend: everyone wants (information) how they want it, in the way they want it. How difficult is it to imagine that this will also include superimposing our own desires for what “reality” will look like that day?

Once it happens would you ever go back to just seeing things the way they “are”?  I don’t think so.