This is a subject that fascinates me and one I’ve blogged on before in the context of on demand services. You can even see the writing on the wall more recently with BBC 3 going online only. So when Virgin Media asked me what I thought the future of home entertainment and communication might be, and whether I could come up with an idea for a Virgin Media Google Glass app, it didn’t take me much more than 5 seconds to agree to have a punt.
2nd screen viewing- that is using a mobile or tablet while watching television- is a trend that is definitely on the increase. Having said that though, a recent survey reported on in Variety said that us punters were yet to be convinced by the merit of synchronised apps- you know, the sort of thing that lets you play along on the Antiques Roadshow with guessing the valuation of the items- which to my mind just shows it’s probably not been done properly yet. I think the closest we’ve managed so far is Amazon’s rather clever X-Ray system which lets you see details about actors and so on while watching films on their Kindle Fire tablets. It probably helps that they own the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) mind you. It’s something though that by extension could work as an app on a second screen.
I already like the way that Virgin Media’s TV Anywhere app (now working with Android Kitkat devices!) blends app streaming with remote recording on your Tivo box and can even change the channel- I can be watching Football Focus on BBC1 and realise from scrolling through the listings on my phone that the coverage for BT Sports 12.45 kick off has started. I can then choose to either watch BT Sports on my phone, set the Tivo box to record it or use the app to change the TV channel. This is a godsend generally as with three small children in the house, I can seldom find remotes and when I do, they’re usually covered in jam.
So as far as I’m concerned we’re already one foot into the future with clever stuff like this. The way forward as I see it is an evolution not a revolution because technology should be an enabler, not simply something we have for it’s own sake or a solution looking for a problem.
In my future I’d like to see my phone or tablet function as a digital assistant to my entertainment consumption. I’m watching an Arnie film through Netflix on my Tivo box; the app gives me the option of seeing what other Arnie films are available on Netflix but goes one further and links into the TV schedules and highlights some late night Channel 5 Arnie action, querying whether I want to record it. It would also flag up any up and coming cinema releases with the great man in and maybe recommend some other stuff based on other users (anonymously) collected recommendations. You know, the sort of thing that happens when you buy a book and you get recommended something else that’s occasionally relevant.
In an ideal world a cross network standard could be developed so that if you’re watching a long running series like, for example, HBO’s Game of Thrones, the second screen could provide continuity and plot reminders, so when a character reappears after a series break or says something cryptic that follows on from something equally cryptic they said a while back, you’re not left in the dark or trawling internet forums to pick up on the subtle stuff.
Google Glass specifically could add to this in some new and innovative ways. If you’ve not come across Google Glass yet, you should check out Googles site. Tech’ is becoming wearable and the implications are interesting.
In terms of a Virgin Media Google Glass app, it’s hard to narrow it down to one specific app to be honest. How about an app that syncs with your Tivo box and puts the sound through the small speakers in Glass so you can mute the telly late at night? Or how about a Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB user rating for a film as it starts? I’m going to be more predictably male though and suggest a Google Glass Football app that overlays real time statistics from Opta during the game you’re watching. Say you watched Manchester United versus Liverpool today, the app wouldn’t tell you how many dives Ashley Young made as he didn’t get on the pitch but you might get an overlay of where Steven Gerrard put his last 5 penalties as he steps up to take the first of his 3(!) penalties of the afternoon. A twitch of the head could also bring in an up to date league table to see how other scores (if relevant) are effecting the standings.
I think the key to making Google Glass work for you is to make it compliment what you already have. I’d much rather have Glass giving me facts rather Robbie Savage and I’d rather only distract myself when I want to.