‘Apps and Gizmos’ point way to future at IBC2011

Today’s media landscape can be summed up with two concepts — infinite content and the ubiquity of screens.

Those were two of the major takeaways from the IBC2011 session “Apps and Gizmos – Consumers Lead the Way,” chaired by Ken Blakeslee, chairman of WebMobility Ventures, a UK-based consulting firm that advises clients on bringing multimedia mobility products to market.

“What’s happening out there? Infinite content,” Blakeslee said. “It’s coming from consumers; it’s coming from people who are equipped with a semi-professional kit that is in their pocket.”

Blakeslee told those in attendance that they need look no further than the exhibition floor of IBC2011 to find some elements of that kit and on the Internet to find others that can transform an Apple iPhone into a formidable HD source and editor.

The other transformational trend, screens everywhere, is contributing mightily to changes in how and where people consume media, Blakeslee said.

“There is one (a screen) in everybody’s pocket,” he said.

Showing a slide of a family circa 1950s gathered around the living room TV, Blakeslee pointed out that today each of the family members in the picture would likely have access to two of their own screens.

Limitless content accessible on screens everywhere is creating a serious problem, however, said session participant Kate Russell, a technology reporter with “BBC Click,” the broadcaster’s weekly technology show.

“Last year, 48 hours of content was uploaded every hour (to YouTube),” she said. “That’s eight years of content going up every day. So the problem now is how you rise to the top of that sort of quagmire of content and actually get your content noticed?”

From a YouTube viewer’s perspective, the problem is how to find what’s of interest in the deluge of content, she added. The answer is recommendation engines that allow people to find what interests them, she said.

Callum Rex Reid, a participant in the session and CEO of DigiCave, a digital production company specializing in interactive media based on 3-D scanned content, pointed out that today’s new delivery platforms, like the Web, are making it possible for people to experience rich media. In Reid’s view, the industry too often makes the mistake of seeing rich media production companies as “one-trick ponies.” Rather, the industry “needs to start developing long-lasting relationships with cutting-edge companies that make these rich media experiences,” he said.

Jon Block, head of innovation for ITV Online, used his time during the session to discuss consumer adoption of technological innovation. Showing the well-known adoption bell curve with early adopters on the left of the curve and laggards on the right, Block recounted several technologies that were new to the market even a couple of years ago and discussed whether or not they had jumped the chasm from early adopters to the mass market. In some cases, he said, consumers are crossing the chasm before industry can deliver on the product.

The same consumer technology that is flooding YouTube and other sites with user-generated content can also be used to create quite professional content, said Gary Symons, CEO of Vericoder. Symons, who at one point in his career was the CBC reporter responsible for covering disasters before the satellite truck could get to the scene of the event, said today he can shoot and edit 720p news stories with his iPhone — often in a third of the time needed to do the same story with a camcorder and computer running Final Cut Pro.

“Where do we draw the line (with this technology)?” he asked rhetorically. “Where it is good is for the breaking news item — not the United Football, bigger picture, staged events.”

The session also included observations from panelists Alan Maxwell, CEO of String, who told the audience that the world is “at the cusp of a revolution” thanks to augmented reality, and Tre Azam, CEO of Myndplay, whose company is driving revolution in movie and gaming technology by allowing viewers and game players to interact with video through brainwaves pickup up by EEG technology.