Saturday, 17 April 2010

3D TV: a mobile solution?

With under two months until the FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa, sporting and technology excitement is reaching fever pitch.  The tournament promises to demonstrate the range of ways football content can be consumed both on compact mobile devices and on larger screens across the world.

Three generations of MDA Chairmen examine the evolution of sporting media content and the impact of new technologies in this item.

  • Ken Blakeslee formerly with Nortel, Vesta Ventures and now with Web Mobility Ventures was MDA Chairman 1995-1998
  • Mike Short, Vice President Telefonica Europe/O2 was MDA Chair 1998-2008
  • Steve Reynolds Managing Director, TBS Enterprise Mobility and Current MDA Chairman.
The views are intended to stimulate wider debate on the future of mobile, sports broadcasting rights, and their enjoyment.

FIFA World Cup - the action on your mobile
Debate about watching football on 3D TV seems to miss the bigger picture – how do fans want to enjoy sport content and become as involved as possible?  The 3rd screen of mobile is more relevant to sports entertainment than ever before.

“The separate screens of TV, Internet and Mobile have developed along different trajectories,” said Mike Short.  But boundaries are blurring as they all begin to converge.  This convergence presents new opportunities around delivery mechanisms, interactivity and ways of enjoying sport.”
This can span from simple score alerts via SMS, team news on the mobile internet and match updates via a mobile application, all the way through to the most cutting edge.

“Massive events like this drive technology and excite new media evangelists,” explained Steve Reynolds.  “At the recent Gadget Show Live, a number of 3D-based PC gaming products were demonstrated, together with mobile 3D eyewear which connect to mobile devices, delivering an authentic 3D media experience.  Considerable investment from manufacturers and large visitor numbers at the show gave strong signals about the potential of mobile 3D.

“Price and availability of 3D media may prove an obstacle, but low cost mobile-connected eyewear solutions could offer a reasonable entry level point to drive user adoption.”

However, peripheral hardware extensions might not be necessary to enable a 3D Mobile experience in the future.  Manufacturer, Sharp has produced a 3D mobile display that does not require users to wear special glasses.  It offers image quality close to 2D liquid crystal display and poses the question of whether 3D could become standard on mobile devices.

Back in the present, the mobile screen is already being used for mobile internet video downloads and catch-up clips.  Access to sites such as Youtube and BBC iPlayer have been encouraged by flat rate mobile data tariffs and the growing availability of wireless connection points, occasionally as a dual mode cellular/wifi.
As well as connectivity flexibility, the visual size of media is becoming less rigid.  Ken Blakeslee points out, “we are less constrained today by the size of the screen thanks to an increasing number of accessories like eyewear and pico projectors, which are becoming available.”

The MDA believes sports media content should be made accessible to a global mobile audience on every technology level.  The FIFA World Cup should provide an example of what a major sporting event experience can offer the average sports fan in the 21st Century.  But an even larger test lies ahead.

One 2012 Olympics = Twenty FIFA World Cups?
“In 2012 the UK will greet 17,000 athletes from 205 nations, competing across 300 events and 35 Olympic Sports,” said Mike Short. “Up to 9 million spectators have been estimated to visit.”  That’s according to the official organising committee.

These figures dwarf those of the FIFA World Cup finals, where 32 countries will compete, therefore presenting proportionally greater opportunities.

We should look at the FIFA World Cup as a mobile media test bed for London 2012.  Let’s closely consider the mobile services which will operate to serve and complement the World Cup experience across the globe. 

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