Future TV: appealing commercials, avatars,
By Dick Pelletier
Since the creation of moving pictures and the advertising
market it presented, television has been a source of profits,
controlled originally by three broadcast networks. In 1975, the
number one show, All in the Family, captured 30 percent
of homes; and cable, just beginning to appear in larger cities,
served only as new technology that improved reception.
Today, the numbers are shrinking. 2009's top-rated
American Idol appeared in only 15% of households; three
broadcast networks have grown to six, and cable and satellite
carriers now deliver over 500 channels. Digital video recorders
make it easy to watch programs anytime – and even skip
For years, traditional broadcasting has delivered tens of
millions of eyeballs to hungry advertisers, but no longer able
to exploit a broad captive audience, the industry must now
invent a new strategy.
Google to the rescue! This forward-thinking company
has developed software that identifies customer interest and
displays only relevant commercials. This concept, combined with
product placements – items digitally inserted into the actual
story line of the program – represents major changes in how
future advertisers will reach their audience.
We might have to watch Desperate Housewives' Terri
Hatcher guzzle down a Pepsi, but on the bright side, this could
one day spell the end of those annoying "commercial breaks,"
plus, the new ads will be more compelling as they will only
include products we have shown a strong interest in.
How we watch TV is undergoing changes too. In 1965, yours
truly purchased his first color TV; a 15-inch solid wood
console. This beautiful furniture piece attracted neighbors and
friends who gathered around to stare at the magical pictures
with flesh-like tones.
Today, most people view TV on large, 32-to-60" flat-panel LCD
display screens. But tomorrow's TVs will boast some amazing
improvements. Touch screens are so yesterday, and remote
controls are definitely last century. In the future, a wave of
the hand turns the TV on, and finger wiggling changes channels
and volume. It's called 3D gesture recognition, and though it's
not in stores yet, manufacturers are aiming for Christmas 2010.
And Panasonic and Britain's Sky Network
will release 3D programming with special compatible TVs in 2010.
Initially, those clumsy glasses will be necessary, but as the
technology advances, distinctive screens will produce
razor-sharp pictures without need for 3D-glasses.
By 2015, lifelike avatars that speak perfect "human" and
resemble a favorite celebrity will appear on our screens to
answer questions, negotiate Internet transactions, and help us
understand our electronic maize. By 2020, holographic technology
will allow the avatars to jump off the screen and join us in the
Also, by 2020, nano-size electronics inside "active contact
lenses" will display TV, Internet, and phone calls directly onto
the retina, creating high-resolution pictures that seem to hover
in the air. And by mid-2020s, "neuro-bots" will create simulated
adventures in our brain that are indiscernible from reality.
At this point, we can download a program like Star Trek
Holodeck and dive into action. Any scene our mind can
envision would seem totally real: we could relive when we first
met our mate, or conjure up any other exciting adventure.
Welcome to this most amazing "magical" TV future.
This article appeared in various print publications and on-line blogs. Comments