The Future of Television
SAN FRANCISCO–It wouldn’t be a gorgeous summer week in San Francisco if there wasn’t a TV of Tomorrow show, and it wouldn’t be Tracy Swedlow’s show if there weren’t nine people (not including her) on the closing panel.
Which it was, and which there were, and somehow it all worked. The session, simply titled “The “Tomorrowists,” had one purpose: To describe the future of television. (With flutes of champagne and strawberries. To loosen up.)
Here’s a sampling of the reverie, starting with the notion of “pause,” in storytelling. Maybe it becomes a place to “insert your own imagination,” said Ed Finn, founding director of the Center for Science & Imagination at Arizona State. “Pause is the future of TV as having a very different relationship with time – an asynchronous experience that’s still somehow live.”
Gone will be the known formats of half hour and one hour shows – “everything will blur,” noted Gary Lauder, managing partner of Lauder Partners. “It will be more like YouTube, where program duration doesn’t stay within any defined lines.”
Complete immersion is on the way, too. This year brought HD displays that bend (a little). TVs that roll up like scrolls made the rounds of “cool things coming” last year. Next, “television will float. You’ll walk through it,” said Swedlow, who added: “Your TV will become your assistant, your friend, the thing that feeds you.”
A mainstay of TV of Tomorrow events are the interactive art exhibits, and this year didn’t disappoint. Artist Cory Barr, who brought a “magic sandbox” (super cool and not succinctly describable in words, but here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddXam191g4w ) and a “shatter wall” (likewise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaTv7WWwJr4 ), had this to say about the future of television: “The sensors in the sandbox and on the shatter wall are similar to what LG’s putting in TVs, and can be fed into learning algorithms.” That way, our TVs will select shows for us based on our moods, which they’ll learn, “based on how we move.” (Yikes.)
Other great quips from TVOT:
“Everything will be a television. Five years from now, Arthur (Orduna, chief innovation officer for ADT) will have a shirt that’s a TV. But still the bow tie,” said Don Dulchinos, SVP/advanced services at CableLabs.
“TV will become aware of our psychoses,” predicted Audrey Balkind, chairman of Bernis Balkind, whom Swedlow described as “a real Mad Men guy, during the hayday of the ad business.”
“TV will be more immersive, more intelligent, more aware, and probably, to a lot of people, a lot more spooky,” said Cory Barr, artist.
“TV is going to be watching you as much as you watch it,” said Seth Haberman, CEO of Visible World.
Swedlow, who once welled up and proclaimed herself verklempt when discussing television inventor Philo Farnsworth, relied on his definition of the future of television: “An interactive adventure of discovery and imagination.”
Still, though, one thing won’t ever change, noted Lauder: “The software will still have bugs.”
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.