The BBC’s R&D department has recently demoed the first public example of what it calls ‘Perceptive Media’, and has published it (first prototype which is an audioplay called “Breaking out”) online so you can try it for yourself.
Perceptive Media is media – either video or audio – that adapts itself based on information it knows about individual viewers. So, if you were watching a game show that you’d never seen before, it might show you an explanation of the rules in detail, while regular views are shown bonus, behind-the-scenes footage instead. Elsewhere, the music playing on the radio in a TV drama might be different depending on your tastes.
Perceptive Media adapts the story to the audience without them having to explicitly interact with it, it uses information about the audience to adapt the story within a scope defined by the storyteller.
Once you start to see narrative as a set of variables its easy to see many other opportunities. What Perceptive Media trys to do is remove the broadcast technology barrier between the storyteller and the audience. It takes advantage of the implicit and explicit data we all generate, without triggering a privacy problem.
This prototype of Perceptive Media involves audio only, Breaking Out is an audio play. The drama is set in an apartment block lift, where Harriet (who suffers from agoraphobia) decides to venture outside for the first time since moving in. The lift in which she is traveling gets stuck, and she begins to have second thoughts about going outside.
The play uses a new audio standard, the Web Audio API. This is so new that the only browser to support our implementation fully at the moment is Chrome (FireFox and Opera work a bit). So for the best experience the latest version of Chrome is recommended.
The audioplay throws up a number of research questions including theories about media bubbles, media consumption, audience experiences and the shared experience. All things we seek to uncover using our prototype and the short survey which follows it.
Try it out here: Perceptive Media demo: Breaking Out
Breaking Out is an audio play with illustrative animations, following the story of a woman stuck in a lift in her apartment block somewhere in the UK. Based on your specific location (if you’re in the UK), aspects of the story such as the weather, date, news, the social networks you’re logged into in your browser and other elements affect the story.
You won’t necessarily be blown away by this audio play – it’s a gently customized experience rather than something that will be immediately obvious. However, if you’re in the UK, the personalized nature of the audio will give you a different experience depending on where you are.Clearly, this is a rough sketch of what Perceptive Media could become.
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