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How Today’s Entertainment Platforms Are Smarter Than The Viewers

The evolution of digital content creation has lead to new ways of experiencing virtual entertainment.

PSFK Labs
PSFK Labs on September 30, 2013. @psfk

In the world of science fiction movies, every piece of technology knows our name, face, and what we like, and is able to communicate seamlessly with its user. While this may seem like a distant reality, the way we consume and interact with our technology is in fact rapidly evolving. In particular, entertainment is becoming so integrated into our daily lives that it can be accessed on-demand whenever and wherever we want it. Futurist Ray Kurzweil proposes that rather than living side by side with technology, we are evolving with it. To this end, we are currently seeing a dramatic shift in the way people consume and interact with digital entertainment.

In collaboration with the minds behind The Curve Report from NBCUniversal, PSFK wanted to investigate the evolution of entertainment and look at how today’s consumers are paving the way for entirely new forms of digital interaction.

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source The Curve Report

We started by looking at how things were. Previously, the kind of digital entertainment consumers had access to was controlled and distributed solely by specific content providers. The simple act of watching television went from a few basic stations, to thousands of cable channels, and eventually to streaming services such as Netflix, which don’t even require a TV set to view. As these services have gained in popularity, viewing habits have evolved alongside, and as a result of thousands of channels at their disposal, consumers expect a massive amount of content tailored to their tastes to be accessible to them at all times.

Challenged by this wealth of content, consumers need help figuring out how to sort through all the noise to find the best TV show, movie or song for their taste, and increasingly they want things to adapt to their preferences in real-time. According to The Curve Report, 62% of Xers and Ys already say they like the idea of entertainment (music, shows, games) that adapts to their tastes and mood.

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Services and companies are rising to the challenge to help deliver tailored entertainment experiences that seamlessly integrate with consumers’ lives. A recent example is Twitter’s #Music app, which functions as a search engine that scans the Twitterverse and connects to Spotify and Rdio premium accounts to create user-tailored playlists of new and popular music. The idea is to help user’s discover new genres they might like by analyzing their tweets, and determining songs they might enjoy based on which artists they follow and the preferences of similar users. By leveraging the user’s social presence, Twitter’s #Music is able to deliver highly personalized and unique recommendations.

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As part of Philips’ ‘You Need To Hear This’ campaign, Ogilvy & Mather London has unveiled a similar innovation in the form of a remixable music video game based on Swiss Lips’ latest single Carolyn. Every choice made in the game affects the music, which allows each user to create a personalized video with their own version of the track that can be shared through a social media-powered leaderboard. Built upon a retro 16-bit style old-school driving game, it features multiple endings to discover and thousands of potential remixes based on the user’s choices. Video content from the game was also used to generate the band’s official music video, creating another layer of user-generated experience.

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Aside from services and software, there is a variety of new hardware being developed to better sense and even predict what users want. For example the new Xbox One from Microsoft comes bundled with an updated tracking sensor, called Kinect 2.0, designed to deliver a highly personalized gaming experience. While the old Kinect had facial recognition, Kinect 2.0 goes a step further by being able to determine where in the room a player is looking, what their facial expressions are to determine their mood, and even pick up the player’s heart rate based on tiny fluctuations in their skin color. All this information can be used by game developers to deliver tailored experiences that create more immersive and engaging gameplay.

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Today there is a serious sharing culture developing, but how much is too much? Despite the growing awareness around the potential for services to draw from a user’s personal information to their own benefit, according to The Curve Report, the majority (68%) of Xers and Ys say they’re willing to give up personal information for highly personalized content made just for them. Examples such as Twitter #Music, Swiss Lips’ new video and Kinect 2.0 demonstrate a dramatic evolution in the way people are consuming entertainment, and how our behaviors are now very closely tied to the evolution of technology. Looking ahead, it is inevitable that this symbiotic evolution of humans and their technology will continue, and that even the wildest imaginings of science fiction movies may soon become a reality.

For a closer look at these new trends in entertainment and how they might manifest in the future, be sure to head over to The Curve Report to check out Inter-App-tivity, which examines our increasingly entwined relationship with the technology we use every day.

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The Curve Report from NBCUniversal Integrated Media

Inter-App-tivity

Images via The Curve Report, Twitter #Music, Ogilvy & Mather London, Microsoft

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