When watching TV, most of us don’t limit our focus to the screen, many times tending to use a smartphone, tablet or laptop at the same time. However, as we use these devices, only 20 % of us are looking up content related to what we’re watching on TV. Companion content viewed on mobile devices nevertheless has the ability to make TV viewing much more participatory and entertaining.
Recognising this potential, the EU-funded 2-IMMERSE project has developed technology that engages audiences in shared and personalised multiscreen experiences. Since its launch in 2015, 2-IMMERSE has focused on designing, building and testing four prototypes involving theatre and sports viewed at home or in public places. The prototypes have been developed using an object-based broadcasting approach.
Through this approach, content objects – video streams, graphics, audio streams and interactive elements – are rendered at the user’s device rather than at the broadcaster before transmission. This offers a significant advantage that is currently missing from TV services: the ability to personalise the viewing experience to meet particular needs. With object-based broadcasting, viewers could choose to increase the commentary volume while muting a sport stadium’s background noise. They could also increase the size of graphics that are difficult to see, access a signed commentary on the TV screen, pull up statistics on competing teams or even zoom in on people’s faces.
A multiscreen motorcycle racing experience
2-IMMERSE’s latest prototype offers a multiscreen experience of MotoGP, the motorcycle racing world championship. The prototype is described in a paper
published on the ‘IBC365’ online community platform. MotoGP races are shown on a TV screen while additional synchronised content is provided on tablets and smartphones. The experience is divided into three phases: Inside MotoGP (build-up to the race), Watch Live (the race itself) and Race Review (post-race analysis).
Each phase has a variety of features available to users. Inside MotoGP includes guide videos on the multiscreen experience, catch-up videos on recent MotoGP events and videos on the sport’s more technical aspects. According to the authors, “during this phase users are prompted to use a menu option to personalise their experience, for example by selecting a favourite rider who is then highlighted within the leader board and on timing data.”
Watch Live features include switching between an interactive leader board and various configurable video streams, replaying events on the TV or tablet, and additional live camera streams. The presentation of media objects can be adjusted to suit the size of the TV or a viewer’s status as an expert, fan or novice. Viewers can also personalise the audio mix by independently controlling the volume of commentary or ambient audio. In the Race Review phase, the post-race coverage shown on TV is accompanied by optional video-on-demand replays on the companion device that often include synchronised views from many different camera angles.
Tested by more than 90 MotoGP fans, the prototype developed by 2-IMMERSE (Creating and Delivering Shared and Personalised Multi-Screen Broadcast and Broadband Experiences) received positive reviews. The favourite features were the additional synchronised camera views that could be controlled by the users themselves.
For more information, please see: 2-IMMERSE project website