24/07/2017 – Science & Technology / ‘Smart’ Technology / Playora / Invisiplay
Beyond minority report
Matt Spall, Founder of Playora, explores the technologies set to shape the future for photo and video sharing.
It is not that long ago that the only screen someone had at home was a TV taking up a huge amount of space. Now we have many screens, at home, at work and on the go. It seems quite possible that, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, we’ll soon be sending images flying through the air with a ‘gesture interface’. Science fiction is at our finger-tips, and the idea that any surface can be a screen is fast becoming reality.
And such tech is moving quickly into the home. LG recently showed a 64-inch screen at CES 2017 – called Wallpaper – with a screen of just 1mm thick, and which can be attached to a wall with magnets. Incredibly, in under a year, technology has gone from curved screen TVs to screens that can be rolled up like a piece of paper.
By 2018, it is estimated that there will be around 759 million TV sets connected to the internet globally – that’s about 25 per cent of the world’s televisions. By 2019, more than 50 per cent of TV households in Japan, the US, the UK , France and Germany will have smart TVs, according to the IHS TV Sets Intelligence Service.
Surrounded by screens
We’re surrounded by screens everywhere we go – and increasingly, connecting them all is the Internet. It seems, therefore, that all the parts are in place: a screen – or something plugged in to it – that can display images or video that it gets from somewhere else; a device in your hand or lap that gives you instant feedback the moment you touch or slide your finger across it; and a wifi network in your house that connects it all.
But there’s one major hurdle stopping you from having your own Minority Report style show. Sharing media across all of these screens and devices – TVs, smartphones, tablets and smartwatches – is not easy. Some have features that allow for ‘cross-device’ compatibility: send video from your Samsung phone to your Samsung TV, send photos between Apple devices using Airdrop, for example – but when it comes to ‘cross-manufacturer’ compatibility, we’re not quite there yet.
There are hardware solutions like Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV. However, all such solutions require the app, or an extension to the app, to be compatible with your content. Screen-mirroring is one option, but forget about replying to that text, or alert, or notification from Facebook or Twitter, once you’re doing it - screen-mirroring means you’ll have to do it on both screens at once.
Putting the user at the centre
Standards are slowly being developed to tackle this challenge. Samsung’s Tizen system supports various types of DLNA, Miracast and DiAL screen-sharing protocols across their range. LG have utilised both WebOS and Netcast. Sony is producing its own platform, as well as a Google TV variant. On top of that (literally, over-the-top or OTT), you have Google’s Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and a host of other generic TV plug-in stick and boxes. But none of those solutions are independent and put the user at the centre.
Enter Playora – whose new technology and app centres the media experience to the user, around their most familiar computer interface. It gives the user the ability to touch something on one screen, and have that appear on another screen without fuss, wires or layers of menus. And that screen doesn’t have to be in the same room – or even the same country.
Imagine this: you’re in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. The majestic peak of the Great Pyramid is to the left – and amazingly, impossibly, there are hardly any other tourists around. The sun is just rising...you have the perfect shot. Click. That’s it – the best selfie you’ve ever taken. Then – swipe, press, swipe, press – that selfie is instantly on your Mum’s tablet back home in Italy. She’s just come home from work, she has some friends round... she sees the picture, and with the touch of a button sends it to her smart TV in the living room, where everyone’s sitting. Much joy all round!
The eye of the beholder
What will the next stage be? Google recently filed a patent in the US for an “intra-ocular device”. This lens may, one day, become a tiny, injectable transparent screen that stays in your eye and is connected to your phone via Bluetooth. This would make it possible to share your photos and videos directly into someone’s eyes. The tech would effectively be creating a personal combined 3D cinema and built in virtual reality. Such an innovation would make the Minority Report ‘gesture interface’ seem positively old hat!
Founded by BAFTA winning serial technical entrepreneur Matt Spall, Playora is the trading name of Invisiplay Ltd. The company was formed with the specific purpose of making it easier to use so-called ‘Smart’ technology for entertainment, by people left behind by the digital divide.