Thursday, January 26, 2012

My review of the latest SecondScreen demo from MediaEcho at CES

While only a demo app, the latest features from MediaEcho leave the viewer with a feeling that there are great things to come in this space.

The app was running on an iPad, with a Blu-ray player, set top box and iPhone available. The first use case demo'd was similar to the King's Speech Blu-ray (super fan material sync'd during playback of the disc). The 2nd use case was similar to their Sons of Anarchy app which allows commerce during playback of the feature sync'd to the content on the screen.

The next use case was a geo-aware advertisement based on the location of the movie set (vs. your iPad's location), so it was contextual to the viewer of the content. Definitely contrary to the current world of sending you ads based on your own location. 

Then we walked thru some multi-view use cases. The 1st screen showing the view as intended, the 2nd screen showing a different angle. Think NASCAR where the primary view is the race track and your tablet is showing the view from your favorite driver. Then we discussed their concept of a "Social Heat Map", where tweets from the app were recorded at the timecode they were sent, giving a graphical view to the consumer of the most tweeted moments of the movie. With the bi-directional sync capabilities of Blu-ray, it meant you could "tune" immediately to those moments to see that scene and the tweets that went with it. It is like being able to aggregate a live viewing asynchronously. Beautiful idea. We finally went thru the various remaining social use cases (polls, chat, etc). But the best hint at the future was when they turned off the blu-ray player. The app immediately started searching for another sync point. It found the set top box and tuned the 2nd screen immediately to it. Then the demonstrator turned off the set top box and it started searching again. The demonstrator pulled out his iPhone to play a clip (in very noisy CES) and the app then tuned to the audio track within a few seconds. This could very well be the future of ACR--an algorithm that searches for the best sync point in the environment (Blu-ray, a video OS environment like Boxee or Netflix, a STB, then audio). This concept while simple could very well be a portent of things to come in this space. A synchronized experience has the power to be more relevant (not everyone can watch live--hence the massive success of DVR's and Tivo). It drives in-show commerce up significantly. It makes the "fan material" more fanatic, and it improves brand recall and click-thru on ads. Watch this space...

Disclosure: I previously worked for the company that developed this product, but purposely waited until I no longer did to provide this review in an outwardly unbiased manner.

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