Future cinema will provide better told, more touchy-feely stories with taste and smell
“The invasion of sophisticated home entertainment sets, home theatres and – in a couple of years – 3D TV technology will revolutionise the entertainment experience at home,” says Professor Artur Lugmayr of the Department of Information Management and Logistics at TUT. He heads the Entertainment and Media Production (EMMi) Lab.
Advanced home entertainment will challenge movie theatres as we now know them. In the future, screens will be even bigger and 3D movies will appeal to all our senses. Eventually these features will also become commercially available. Stories will be told in many more immersive ways.
Ambient technology – the next big revolution
Ambient or ubiquitous technology is something that is always present, seamlessly integrated into our lives and surrounding us wherever we go. There will be tiny computers and sensors everywhere: in devices, domestic appliances, work equipment, furniture, homes, buildings, workplaces and factories, and also in clothing and packaging. They will all be interconnected, and they will all be able to communicate both with us and with one another. Our fridges will remind us if we need to buy more milk, and our cars will interact with other cars, responding to dangerous traffic situations and sending alerts when necessary.
The ubinet covers our whole living environment
In the future, the Internet will not just be something that is accessible on our laptops and smartphones. It will be extended to encompass our whole living environment. The future Internet, also known as the ubinet or ambient media, will be like a huge umbrella or a cloud service that contains a multitude of various embedded elements, media and services, such as intelligent homes, smart wallpapers and personalised location-based services. The key for realising this environment are information systems that operate in the background, hidden from the consumer. Smart information systems personalise services, gather data, and interpret data on behalf of the consumer.
Blurring the lines between content, applications and services
“Ambient media technology will change the notion of content as we know it. As ambient media distributes its media objects throughout our living spaces, the borders between content, applications and services will get more blurred. The development of the Smart Cities concept is one example of this trend,” Professor Artur Lugmayr points out.
If media gadgets break down, we will be able to print new ones using 3D printers, the prices of which are already rapidly falling. Despite this, currently it still requires expert skills to create these models. In a post-digital world, perhaps already in a couple of years’ time, this will reintroduce the physical back into our lives though,” he suggests.
In a ubiquitous world, our lives will become much more transparent. Data will be collected on our every move, and our online community conversations will supply valuable information for businesses gathering data on consumer behavior. As a result, privacy will be harder to maintain. For some of us, this will be no problem, but quite a few people will regard this as the downside of the brave new world.
The present trend where we are having a family moment around the TV set but simultaneously everyone is busy tapping away on their own devices, engaged in social media conversations and devouring news and other content from various media outlets, shows no sign of ending – on the contrary.
“TV screens will still be the ‘fireplaces’ in our homes, where people gather to share a common experience, such as a football match or a movie. However, there is a strong trend to enjoy content on devices, rather than the main screen at home,” Professor Artur Lugmayr notes.
Evolving role of the home entertainment centre
“But we should not think of the home entertainment centre as merely an entertainment platform,” Lugmar adds.
“We also have to consider serious applications, like serious gaming or storytelling. Thus, the role of the home entertainment centre will be transformed to become a place for other activities as well. For example, people can use it to do physiotherapy exercises remotely via a gaming device.”
Lugmayr believes that there will also be home information systems that can be linked to other sources of available data, such as open governmental data archives. They would enable us to access public open data and statistics and, if we are interested, create a mash-up application of public and personal content for sharing with others online.
Smell, taste and touch enhance the viewing experience
Advanced home entertainment will be a challenge for movie theatres, which will have to start providing more compelling viewing experiences and more immersive cinematic solutions. That is why an increasing number of movie theatres are taking into use 3D technology and introducing better image and sound quality. The movie industry is doing its share by producing more 3D films. Another example for this trend are live events such as concerts that are arranged in cinemas.
“To better immerse viewers in content and story flow, the movie industry will also try to stimulate our senses with special effects, such as smell, taste and touch. Digital taste synthesizer prototypes have already been built, and in the future it will be possible to send and regenerate taste sensations remotely,” Lugmayr says.
It will take some time before touchy-feely films with taste and smell effects hit the big screen, but according to Lugmayr, a couple of decades from now we may see some biotechnical features being added to the cinema and entertainment experience. Eventually the features will become available to consumers.
Lugmayr believes that the unique and, at best, magical experience of seeing a film on the big screen in a darkened movie theatre together with dozens of other people cannot be simulated in the everyday settings of our homes.
The crowd knows best
According to Lugmayr, in the future we will increasingly participate in the cocreation of media content as well as products. We will voluntarily crowdsource new content and service ideas for media houses and entertainment content providers, who are looking for ways to attract and keep their audiences. Crowdfunding will allow us to contribute to the creation of books, films, theatrical performances and TV programmes with which we have an emotional connection.
“However, I think the crowd should get something back in return. It cannot be that people do it all for free. The reward could be some form of revenue sharing, for example, especially if the amount invested is big,” he suggests.