Nov 122008

What is Mixed Reality, why is it relevant and has TV become it’s background medium of choice for larger numbers of media consumers who around the world are spending more time in online pursuits than glued to the content breaks in-between the advertising slots of commercial TV. How will TV survive in a world where social and gaming worlds are far more compelling?

Latest video above available as a download (with better audio & creative commons) 50MB MP4 click here

I am up at the SPAA conference in the Gold Coast producing at and speaking on one of only two panels, for TV and Filmmakers, that are really focused on the ‘creative’ vs biz only possibilities of games and virtual worlds and (that oft misused term in these circles) New Media (that internet thang). The topic of our panel is “Where Virtual Worlds Meet TV, Where Films Meet Games” and features SilkCharm aka Laurel Papworth, Keren Flavell aka SL’s Starr Sonic ( and truna a great games evangelist and IGDA leader hailing from Brisbane.

This topic is driven partly by a mass fragmentation and a paradoxical reversal of fortunes at the moment – where TV itself is the actual snacking medium and where the longer form immersion is in online communities, virtual worlds and games. But can the mediums truly cross-over?

I have been talking for a couple of years now about the fantastic potential of the live and by implication shared TV experience to be enhanced by extending the world into online games. Where are we and where might we be in a few years once the ‘broadcasters’ realise that keeping an audience involved in the ‘IP’/programme in-between airings is a good thing. Good for the story creators, the latent creative audience and of course advertisers who need eyeballs/hands/ears/minds. Some older Personalize posts on this topic.

Anthony Zuiker creatorof the CSI franchise was at one point going to join my panel and his perspective is critical in this:

“The advertising model for TV is completely broken top to bottom. I’ve lost 20% of my viewership in a year and a half… where are they? They’re on the web and other platforms.” Despite a “revolution” in television that now delivers some of the highest quality programming in the history of the medium…Zuiker believes that the “technological boom” happening concurrently is negatively impacting the popularity of the medium.

MI6 Creative Keynote: CSI Creator Calls For Games, TV To Converge

A part of the SPAA panel here on the Gold Coast, is looking at the issue of where TV and Virtual Space ‘will’ cross-over, not some wacky installation in a dark art gallery but a new emerging element of the entertainment industry where film and games are joined at the hip and TV and social virtual worlds work in glorious real time – live broadcast driving and linking to highly social environments, what Interactive TV has always tried to be. FYI here is the synopsis of my panel “Where Virtual Worlds Meet TV, Where Films Meet Games”.

“Which side of the wall are you on? Are you ready for the Mixed Reality, Entertainment Perfect Storm? TV and Film OR Games and Virtual Worlds? That wall is about to crumble. This is a wake up call to all entertainment producers and consumers to prepare for an almighty collision. Audiences are already spending up to four times as much of their entertainment time in virtual spaces than they are watching TV. Gary Hayes says “I think we are really approaching a perfect storm, a mixed reality perfect storm, because we are seeing several things happening. The first one is a long history of games based on TV and films. Another ‘wind’ is virtual worlds, particularly the exponential growth of customisable social spaces and the important ability to integrate external media into them. The third force is audience behaviour, who involved in far more simultaneous activity particularly between broadband web and TV. The fourth element to this perfect storm is actually what is happening to TV and film, such as live reality TV becoming more game like and now over 100 feature films in production based on game worlds. All of these forces together are creating a really potent mix that all producers need to be aware of”

What is Mixed Reality?

Mixed Reality is a term that needs a more focused definition, as I believe it is also misused. So I see Mixed (or Cross) Reality as

“a creative or social activity that takes place simultaneously in real and virtual worlds and where the interaction in each are resonant and dependent on each other”

So typical practical examples – a conference that has active audiences in the virtual and real world and both communicate seamlessly with each other or where a kids TV show is broadcast while children collaborate in a virtual world and appear to help the progression of the story or a film on a DVD with clues that as you watch it allow you to progress with other players in an online game. But there is also another key aspect of cross or mixed-reality, that of virtual “˜things’ appearing around us in real physical environments. This is often called “˜augmented reality’ but I believe it sits under the broader “˜mixed reality’ umbrella.

Some folk also call this form ‘blended entertainment’ – but to me that doesn’t specifically suggest virtual space and is more related to the already out-dated ‘cross-media’ RIP (hello – Social Media Entertainment) or Extended Entertainment, which is more in my Level 1 or 2 cross-media definition on Wikipedia.

About the Mixed Reality Compilation Video Above

aug-01I think the potential of this two-way flow is significant for education and business but also for entertainment and advertising/marketing. So I put together the short film above that hopefully captures a sense of where we are with this circa 2008. I wrote a rather rushed voice over for the short film, a kind of pretrospective (writing back from the future) looking at a “Dawning of Mixed Reality“. As well as my music and voice over (apologies, it was done at 1am a few days ago)Â it contains many choice clips trawled off YouTube but also quite a few that I have worked on at LAMP, the Format Factory, BBC and various other hats.

Is this reality? Is this fantasy? In 2008 the great transition truly began. Whereas a decade earlier we used to “˜log in’ to cyberspace, now we began to semi-permanently inhabit virtual space and the digital world started to leak out into everyday life. It began to infiltrate our shopping malls and became integrated with our everyday lives. Humanity started the relentless journey towards the natural future where virtuality became a greater reality, and where digital fantasy and organic reality were inextricably intertwined.

Through the early 2000s pervasive wearable computing started to break down the walls that used to separate our virtual existence from our physical one. This same technology also allowed us to embed ourselves seamlessly into virtual worlds which is where we could truly experiment with future forms of entertainment, art, education and business.

In these new places we became the real time, living celebrity. Many of us became avatar stars, pixel gods – exalted as those linear film and TV icons. This became the only place for many. By 2007 hardcore gamers were already spending fifty five hours per week “˜inside’ these shared worlds and learned to forgot about the real world. This became the place where their most meaningful hours were spent. Everyone began to blend the two domains, combining them in new ways, driven by an invisible urge. Thus started the global meshing, of today’s mixed reality.

But in 2009 questions were asked. As in the many films that hinted at our transhumanist future, would the physical embodied self ever become redundant? Would we truly evolve as self contained, digital entities? May we as well be slumped in a chair with a cable plugged into our heads? Regardless, as the real world became inhospitable we all started to crave for the immersion and began moving our physical selves into these spaces. Even more than that we wanted our peers our un-virtual audiences to be able to share our experiences there. It became a contagious as the most poignant moments and memories were the ones in virtual space.

But we needed to look beyond these screens and into our own souls. Find the truth written along the “˜thin white line’ that separates analog from digital, person from avatar. This was the beginning. It always was. As far as the meshing or blending of reality and virtuality, in 2009 they were the equivalent of grainy black and white movies seventy years earlier. Our experiences were simultaneously part real, part virtual but it didn’t matter which was which anymore. Both were valid and they depended on each other. Those early parallel existences of twenty years ago started to move humanity forward, released our imaginations and we coexisted with our precious and ultimately fragile, physical selves. The great crossing had begun.

I was particularly interested in several new developments that are allowing “˜minority report’esque’ eye-catching. holographic human figures into real space. You will spot these in the film, the live Telstra conference or the models trying on clothes in store windows and closed displays. I tried to list most of the items below and have copy paste some of the text that describes the videos. If there are others you think are significant or that I have missed, please comment and as I do with other compilation films I will be updating regularly, particularly on the download versions.

The various clips in the film are detailed below:

  1. InLimbo Blended Reality – A.M. Architect sits In Limbo to converse and showcase their electronic music. Simultaneously to the broadcast, the show was recreated in the KRTU-Second Life complex, the audio streaming and photos of the studio dynamically updating
  2. Metaversatility brings Frogg Marlowe (Jeremy Works) to TX for a couple blended reality music performances. Footage from Limelight in San Antonio & Mozart’s in Austin, for the Second Life TX Meetup, hosted by Metaversatility.
  3. A short 3 hour Mixed Reality Game I devised for a LAMP residential – called the Old Forest more details on UTube
  4. Red Dog Clawtooth (Red Dog’s) Avatar makes his debut on Channel 9 news sharing the concept of Blended Realities!
  5. A Segment on CNBC asia about Adrian David Cheok work on ‘mixed’ or ‘augmented’ reality.
  6. Gizmondo Augmented Reality Game – Catapult. Please not this was never released it was in development when Gizmondo went under. There is no sound on this clip.
  7. Motion Capture & Augmented Reality. Virtual Dancers Part 1- A good sign the tracking is okay is that all this has been obtained on the first test and with no feedback for me when I held the camera. In brief, as long as it is a bit smooth, the real-time tracking is okay.
  8. Project exploring technique of green screening Second Life avatars and real life actors.
  9. A promotional video from The Format Factory
  10. This 3-D Mixed Reality 3-D Book teaches children about the layers of the earth, how are they discovered, how do they related and function, siesmic waves, comparative sizes, and many more.
  11. Larngear Technology’s Mixed Reality Learning Media being used in real classroom environment, during a high school chemistry lesson in Mater Dei School. This is featured in the TV progam Mega Clever
  12. Tim Johnson’s presentation was held at the Centre for Digital Media at Great Northern Way Campus – home of the Masters of Digital Media program. The event was simultaneously broadcast in Second Life at the school’s virtual world campus located at University Project.
  13. The worlds first holographic illision, designed for retail. Created in 2002. You can find the team behind this solution at
  14. Dreamoc, a holographic video display designed to create mixed reality. The world where real objects meets virtual fiction. The Dreamoc system is designed by realfiction
  15. Future Fun – Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore, Adrian David Cheok : A documentary about future fun
  16. DNP and metaio implement the first augmented reality museum application with a handheld system in LOUVRE-DNP Museum Lab, Tokyo.
  17. A re-invisioning of a 1916 Italian Futurist film using Second Life Augmented Reality Technologies, being developed at Georgia Tech. The short film is a hybrid live action and machinima captured in real time. There are no use of Green Screens. Pos-production is not used to composite the Second Life image and live image.
  18. Augmented reality driving from Total Immersion.
  19. Large scale implementations of augmented reality solutions from Total immersion.
  20. Aussie talkshow host Rove McManus made history yesterday at Auckland’s Vector Arena as the first person to have his hologram beamed across the Tasman. Multiple cameras beamed his three-dimensional image from a studio in Melbourne to the paper-thin Auckland screen, accompanied by sound effects from Star Trek’s transporter beam, enabling McManus to have a live discussion with Telstra-Clear chief executive Allan Freeth.
  21. Roy Block is an experiment, sort of game, with a tangible interface that touches the field of mixed reality. It is a project by Sebastian Schmieg, student at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart.
  22. 2004 Video, computer, pneumatics. A stack of books sits in a chair and, on them, a monitor abuts a small table. The surface of the table holds water, forming a small rectangular pool in front of the monitor. The monitor depicts a woman’s face, her chin resting on her folded hands.
  23. http://www.reactrix.comDog going crazy for the interactive soccer ball on the Reactrix interactive floor display
  24. Another sample of interactive floor projections: the Water Effect. Scenes creates custom interactive effects for any kind of event, on the floor as on the wall or screens.
  25. Technological platform for interactive floor ocean. Collaboration with Studio Azzurro. Museo del Mare, Genoa.
  26. Worlds first multi touch interactive musical wall. This interactive wall allows multiple users to conduct virtual symphonies.
  27. Multi-touch table. This table is a departure from earlier examples because it is relatively easy to use by non-technical content creators. It works in most lighting because it doesn’t use a camera
  28. – Using the infrared camera in the Wii remote and a head mounted sensor bar (two IR LEDs), you can accurately track the location of your head and render view dependent images on the screen. By Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University. For more information and software visit
  29. News broadcast on CNBC – Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore, Adrian David Cheok : 22nd February 2002
  30. Larngear Technology’s story in the research and development, designing, and marketing of Mixed Reality technology is well describe and illustrated in the TV program Clickzone, supported by SIPA. The show is hosted by Tai, Chutima, from the movie Season Change.
  31. More to come…

There are several companies around the world developing Cross-Reality forms. One that I am heavily involved with, The Format Factory, are pioneering formats that bridge the space between compelling participatory TV and online game worlds. This is a kind of teaser video I created that metaphorically demonstrates some of the ’embedded’ world-within-worlds. Their sister company The Project Factory have been doing some basic but interesting cross-overs in Second Life too.

I also talk in more detail about Mixed Reality potential in this early 2006 seminar, here are the slides from that one containing many cross-branded vs cross-reality examples.

I will leave the final word again to Mr ‘CSI’ Zuiker who instinctively points out that particpant audiences expect to be involved in the story, to be the hero, the villain and to feel they are partly in control of their own personalised route through it. Customisable and game worlds with existing culture are the best tool at film and TV makers disposal.

“In the gaming area, you want to give people tasks, to shoot things and upload pictures… You’re doing this because you want these people to be creating their own story and it will be part of the crime on the broadcast… Even if it’s not the actual thing I shot, I was part of that experience, that community, that narrative.”

PS: BTW I think the term ‘participatory audience’ used in the title of this post/article, is a bit of an oxymoron. Audience as a term suggests passivity not participation…but I am sure you will let me off for that one?! Please.

Jun 232008

For those folk who fancy a trip down to Monash University Law Chambers on Wednesday 25 June and who want to see where ‘Underbelly’ meets Social Virtual Worlds and Online Games well we have just the seminar for you. My opening talk’s title “The Sex, the Violence and the Dirty Money: The Truth about Social Virtual Worlds” constructed several months ago now seems a little OTT, wonders how he will live up to the promise…oh yes just cite every mainstream ‘heritage media’ article about the evils of online games and social virtual worlds and voila. Of course I will be talking about some of the benefits too. I might also use this lovely video I picked up from a side exhibition in Seoul last week from APEC Education Foundation Series which points out the evils of the internet (sorry, safe use of) – this particular one entitled ‘Copyright Infringement’ is ‘so swank’…btw I will be putting up my Seoul talk at the trilateral Broadband Summit in a day or so.

Seminar (PDF available from here)
Wednesday 25 June 2008, 4 – 6.30 pm
Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies, Monash University Law Chambers
472 Bourke Street Melbourne
Key Speakers
Gary Hayes, Director LAMP @ AFTRS and Head of Virtual World Development, TPF
Dan Hunter, New York Law School, Melbourne University Law
Melissa deZwart, Senior Lecturer, Monash Law
David Lindsay, Senior Lecturer, Monash Law

Businesses, and communities of users are increasingly operating in virtual worlds, such as Second Life. But doing business in virtual worlds raises many complex, novel legal issues. Already, potentially landmark cases have come before US courts. This seminar features well-known experts and legal academics in this rapidly-emerging area. It will be an indispensable introduction to virtual worlds, as well as an overview and analysis of significant legal issues.

4 pm Welcome
4.10 pm The Sex, the Violence and the Dirty Money: The Truth about Social Virtual Worlds
Gary Hayes
4.40 pm Property, Intellectual Property and Virtual Worlds: What Do Virtual Worlds Tell Us About Property?
Dan Hunter
5.10 pm Beyond the Terms of Service: Legal Issues in Regulating Virtual Worlds
Melissa deZwart
5.40 pm Copyright Protection of Buildings and Artistic Works in Virtual Worlds: Comparative Legal Analysis
David Lindsay
6.10 pm Questions & Discussion
6.30 pm Refreshments

Speaker profiles
Gary Hayes is the Director of the Australian Laboratory for Advanced Media Production
(LAMP), which is run through the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS), based in Sydney. LAMP is rapidly emerging as Australia’s preeminent media R&D and production lab. Through AFTRS, he runs workshops in multi-user virtual environments (MUVE), exploring the potential of shared social online virtual spaces for collaborative production, creativity and education. Gary is also Head of Virtual Worlds with the UK-based Project Factory. In this capacity, he has produced and built both the Telstra and ABC Second Life presences, and is currently building and devising other commercial and game-like services for virtual worlds. From 1995-2004, as a Senior Producer and Development Manager for the BBC in London, Gary led the BBC’s development of the internet, interactive TV and emerging platforms. As a published music producer, composer and performer, he has had over 200 works performed live and on TV, film and radio. Gary has been an International Interactive Emmy juror for the past two years.

Dan Hunter is an expert in cyberspace and internet law, and artificial intelligence and cognitive science models of law. He holds a chair in law at the University of Melbourne, and will join the New York Law School faculty permanently in mid-2008. Dan regularly publishes on issues dealing with the intersection of computers and the law, including papers dealing with the regulation of virtual worlds and high technology aspects of intellectual property. He was one of the first scholars to examine the social significance of virtual worlds, co-founded the scholarly blog Terra Nova (, and ran the 2006 State of Play/Terra Nova Conference at New York Law School, and the 2007 State of Play Conference in Singapore. Dan holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge on the nature of legal reasoning. He was a tenured faculty member at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, from 2000-2007, where he continues to teach as an adjunct faculty member. Prior to joining Wharton he taught on the law faculty at Cambridge University in

Melissa deZwart is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Teaching in the Faculty of Law at Monash University, where she teaches Cyberlaw, Law of the Internet, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and Introduction to Legal Reasoning. Melissa is an expert in cyberlaw, e-commerce law, information technology law, technology contracts and copyright law, and is widely published in these areas. She is the co-ordinator of a Monash Arts/Law grant researching the law and regulation of virtual worlds, and has been instrumental in establishing the Monash presence in Second Life. In 2008, Melissa will introduce the graduate subject, Law of Virtual Worlds. Melissa has a PhD from Monash on the intersection of copyright and contract in the digital environment. Prior to joining the law faculty, she was the Legal Manager at CSIRO.

David Lindsay is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University teaching Intellectual Property Law, Copyright, Law of the Internet, Communications Law & Regulation and Trusts. He is the author of many articles and reports in the areas of intellectual property law, internet law, communications law and privacy law, and a wellknown speaker on these areas. David is a contributing author for Copyright and Designs (Butterworths, Sydney, 1996-) and the author of International Domain Name Law: ICANN and the UDRP (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2007).

Jun 072006

Yesterday I chaired the Mobile Content World Australasia 2006 Conference in Sydney and moderated a couple of panels. I gave an opening (provocative as far as an industry conference goes) address and a few people have asked for copies. So as powerpoints were banned (by the switched-on Terrappin organisers), and as my notes eventually turned into a script (I prefer not to read scripts – no room for personalised delivery!) – well I had it to hand. So here it is. Short, succinct and afterwards I list the people on the panels during the day – and when I get time I will give some opinion, add on what I thought of the event, the discussions and a few of the toys I saw such as a 3D phone and some great social network services, very cool.

Where are we? Where is mobile content on its evolutionary path? Is it well adjusted late teens or is it still a screaming adolescent? What are the real signs of maturity in the industry?

I am Gary Hayes, Director of the Laboratory of Advanced Media Production in Sydney, part of a government initiative run through the Australian Film TV and Radio School. We work with major ‘heritage’ media producers to prototype next generation cross-media services. We will have prototyped over thirty eight services by October many of which utilise mobile devices. I am originally from a digital broadcast and broadband TV background and when I was senior development producer at BBC New Media for 8 years I started out by putting the first audio, video and vr services onto broadband PC too. This makes me sound old but this was only ten years ago remember. I also worked in the US for a couple of years developing broadband TV services. The only thing mobile was useful to the broadcaster, when we were beginning Interactive TV services six years ago, was to vote, SMS chat or send in text messages – at premium rate of course. Have things changed that much?

The mobile industry today reminds me to a great extent of the early digital TV and broadband PC days back in 1996/7. We weren’t sure if putting video (or TV as we used to call it) onto the web was really going to work. We were not sure if communities and social networks would grow with any permanence on the web, which in those days were mostly shopping malls and advertising billboards (web 1.0) – and we weren’t sure that people would really use the web to be creative – many thought the web was about email (simple communication) and information. Ring any bells?

On mobile phones, of which the current incarnation has evolved out of the early web so the comparison is slightly flawed, we certainly have lots of walled gardens, chat communities and ubiquitous shopping malls. We have first generation services streaming live video (or TV as we used to call it) and video downloads – and in trials people are using DVB-H for up to 20 minutes a day. We also have games that are catching up to the quality of PS1 consoles of the mid-90s and communities in a sort of trial phase. Then there are the tablets, the iPods, PDAs all part of a convergence as everything becomes connected and we can store all the content you would ever need, at any one moment in time at least.

But mobile devices, particularly connected, location senstive ones have so much more potential, even now. What is holding them back from becoming the epicentre of consumers media universe? Price? Storage? The Experience? Interoperability? Quality of Service? The Business Model itself? ROI or Greed?

In the last five years things have changed considerably on the web – and now web 2.0, as it is called, is flourishing, and millions are actively participating and creating content. Blogs, vlogs, podcasts, shared spaces and mass multiplayer online role playing games are everywhere. People who play online games are not watching TV anymore, in fact they are not doing much else besides these social network based, online games. So why did this happen, what can we learn?

Part of why this happened is that firstly TV, a medium that used to be the media hub, has not evolved quickly enough for the active consumer – who need to share, communicate and participate ‘in’ the medium itself. Sure TV (the form – bite sized chunks of entertaining video) is gradually breaking free of its chains in the corner of the room, slowly becoming connected on the web, but we all know it will have to quickly morph and change its stripes to survive the next decade. Those early broadcast interactive services I had a part in creating or the early TV walled gardens such as Sky’s Open… (RIP) were in retrospect, stepping stones towards the great triple play of IPTV – also known as broadband content delivered to the large screen we used to call ‘a TV’. So why did this happen, what can the mobile industry learn?

People move to where media (their own and that which they pay for) is easily shared, published and moved between all their devices and friends and family. They buy content for themselves and not one device. They go to where their voice is heard and where they can be active participants. Any platform that locks the active ‘panther-like’ consumer in a cage, in the medium term, is doomed to failure. Early web portals like AOL and digital TV walled gardens know this. The mobile industry needs to take stock and grow up. Break down the walls, create interoperable marketplaces that will create traffic, activity and flourish. It also needs to treat the consumer as an individual and it has such potential to be the test bed for real personalisation – in fact that is it’s USP, its saviour and the true thing that can set it apart in the platform jungle. Getting the right ‘rich media’ content on top of each individuals portal in real time, on the move is key and ARPU will increase exponentially.

Speaking of personalisation, or rather customisation, I forgot to tell you I am a flasher. Not in the pants domain no. Dismayed by the amount of relevant rich content on various 3G portals I tried, I decided to flash my Moto v3x phone a few months ago. Yes I joined the dark side of the force, the modder community and now, move ‘my paid’ for content freely between PCs, iPod, PDA and phones. I suspect there are many more that would like to do so too. Beware of that crowd, unless you deliver quickly they will be looking elsewhere and WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth connected (non mobile phone) mobile devices are getting itchy feet in the queue behind you.
Imagine now Ennio Morricones theme tune as we quickly look at the Good, The Bad and the Ugly of the mobile industry, the themes that we will be exploring in today’s conference.

The Good – three of them:
1 – mobile phones are still the most effective way to connect, mobile people. So we have two sessions dedicated to how mobile communities can increase traffic and ARPU. In publishing consumer content there has been some innovative phone user generated TV shows such as Syamekke in Japan, Cult TV in France and even a dedicated TV channel Tu Media in Korea showing nothing but viewer content. Using the phone as a tool to vlog and publish onto TV will both educate and inspire the audience and inspire.
2 – Another good seachange is at for example. They are creating tools to allow consumers to sell content (ringtones, wallpaper and create webpages) to each other – micro viewer economics that really drove traffic for eBay, MySpace and a few virtual shared spaces on the web like Second Life.
3 – Also in the good camp is the phenomenal success of the mobile phone billing system. Some have called it ‘implied commerciality’ – people accept they have to pay for everything – but that also means people are far less eager to try new things which is also…

…The Bad – to me bad is still the simple lack of interoperability and the walled garden. Interoperability between mobile devices, between operators, and across the off-portal piece – but really, between consumers. Sure things are improving but without simple ways to share and move media consumers will find alternate routes as digital content wants to spread. No one operator can fulfil the need of any consumer so providing easier routes to get to off-portal content is critical and providing a higher quality experience on that journey is even more so. We have sessions looking at fulfilling the promise of 3G and on and off portal internet

The Ugly – We can do so much more to get the right content to right consumers. Personalisation, targeting and easier search are critical. Finding content is sometimes ugly at the moment, no in fact it is very ugly. Deep menus, busy interfaces and superficial content once you get there– we have panels today focusing on the consumer experience and how to create stickiness through usuability that will hopefully help us out of this maze.

OK enough from me time for some statistics now and a look at What Consumers Actually Want from the Australian mobile perspective, from Claudio Sagripanti of AIMIA and Venture One.

Welcome and Opening Remarks from the Chair
Mobile Content State of Play – the good, the bad and the ugly
Gary Hayes, Director, Laboratory for Advanced Media Production

Mobile content industry landscape
What consumers want – results from the Australian mobile phone lifestyle index
Claudia Sagripanti, Chairperson, AIMIA MCIDG and Venture One

International Keynote
Engaging customers through mobile entertainment
Ira Rubeinstein, Executive Vice President,
Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment

TV to Go – Effective programming for the mobile
Jim Shomos, Creator and Executive Producer,
Forget The Rules

Panel Discussion. Carrier Panel session – Fulfilling the promise of 3G
Gary Hayes, Moderator
Michael Padden, Head of Mobile Content, Telstra
Mark Mulder, General Manager of Content and portals, Optus
Adrian Crouch, IPX Country Manager, Ericsson
Richard Sherwood, General Manager of Mass Markets, Vodafone Australia
Scott Taylor, General Manager of Content and Services, 3 Australia

Communities – find the way into the truly viral market
Jennifer Wilson, Head of Mobile, HWW

Panel Discussion – Exploring the benefits of mobile communities
Jennifer Wilson, Moderator
Olivia Hilton, Chief Executive Officer, Jumbuck
James Cleary, Founder and Managing Director, Amethon
Paul Gruebar, Product Marketing Manager Premier and Youth, 3 Australia
Gregan McMahon, Regional Director Australia and NZ, Yahoo! Mobile

Creating a compelling – customer focused experience
Gary Hayes, Moderator
Annie Mackin, Head of Mobile Content, 3 Australia
Cyrus Allen, General Manager, Telstra Product Management, Telstra Corporation
Steve Watson, General Manager Group Portals and Entertainment, Legion Interactive
Oliver Weidlich, Managing Director, Ideal Interfaces
Trevor Goldberg, VP Global Partners, Bango
Arun Gupta, CEO, Mauj Telecom

Mobile Media: Mobile as a new opportunity
Peter Egberts, Business Development Director, South Pacific Region, Netsize

Speed Networking

Creating mobile content differentiation and brand experience through a consistent user interface
Dr. Yan Zhuang, Director Business Development, QUALCOMM Internet Services

Roundtable discussions
Roundtable one: Mobile Communities
Facilitated by Jennifer Wilson, Head of Mobile, HWW

Roundtable two: User Experience
Facilitated by Oliver Weidlich, Usability Specialist, Ideal Interfaces

Roundtable three: Mobile Media
Facilitated by Peter Egberts, Business Development Director, South Pacific Region, Netsize

Closing remarks from the Chair

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Mar 112006

Update: The vanilla Razr 3G handset I bought now voted best 3G device 2006 😉 Gadget envy/showoff begins…
This post is partly due to my being the chair the first day of the Australasia Mobile Content World Conference in June and partly because I recently bought into Oz 3G, to immerse myself more in mobile content services – so I can present at various events from ‘real’ experience. I have been immersed into the wonderful world of mobile phone content and services back when I was producing cross-media at the BBC – I was one of the first to trial 3G when it was still testbed, global roaming and 2.5G services amongst others – all around mid 03. Things have moved on a little, so what follows is my take on where we are, from personal experience last week of buying a new device to sample and create mobile content, operators business constraints and a dark journey into the underworld of mod’ding.

I decided to buy into 3G but avoid only using one service provider so as to try a few disperate services out, play with alternate pieces of content, try games, comms and web services from all of them – the same way I would buy a computer and browse (without thinking about it) many and various video websites, or online book stores. The same way I used to have satellite, digital terrestrial TV, DVD and PVR at home. One screen, several service providers. If you can do that with TV and PC why not mobiles? So I purchased a sleek looking Motorola Razr V3x (3G, 2MP camera, blueT, 3D games, video phone, 512MB memory) off eBay. Good price and unlocked. Just what I needed. Or so I thought. I did some digging around, questioning and eventually out of necessity got sucked into the modd’ing community. My three options below made this the only way to go. For those brave enough it is an option, but I think they may be in a very small minority!?: now some of this ‘fiddling with mobiles’ may be suspect, I am pretty sure not illegal, but if I need to do things with a piece of technology I have paid for there was no other route. If the Conference people read this then perhaps they may think twice about having me there ;-)…My initial three options.

1 – ONE PROVIDER. “Dictatorship?”. To go with only one operator, ideally the one with the branding and settings already ‘burnt’ into the nice eBay phone. Pay a premium forweb connectivity and for most pieces of content I put on the phone, every game, ring tone, piece of video, etc etc: Be locked into a small range of walled garden services – much like Satellite TV in the early days. Easy to use but a very limited menu. Much like when I joined AOL’s walled internet garden, many years ago – a few pieces of morsels that interested me, but then I was off into the wide open net looking for the really exciting stuff. So not that attractive for my purpose at the moment.

2 – MULTIPLE PROVIDERS, ONE PHONE. “Too many cooks” syndrome. To try to have multiple operators happily sitting on the one phone. Changing sims, switching between settings and configurations constantly. Which I have been told is virtually impossible by Vodaphone, 3 Hutch and Optus – here in Sydney. All the store assistants looked at me as if I was mad. Why do you want multiple operators? The look then turned quickly into “now how would we make money if everyone did that” – OK, we know what the business model is. Not rocket science, but surely that can’t continue indefinitely? What will be the way forward? We are starting to see the same models of phones appear on the shelves of all the operators – how long will customers really be happy to be locked down to one service provider? Won’t go on beyond saying that wireless telcos, because they have the monopoly on the distribution channels could potentially hold onto this for a few more years – but beware of WiMax and other technologies – the Skype of WiMax will be a force to reckon with, enough quadropoly bashing …finally option 3

3 – MODDING OPTION. “The Wild West” – Mad Max, anything goes for mobiles. This is the option I went with a couple of days ago – at least I can go back to 1 or 2 if this doesnt work out. After a steep learning curve I finally got familiar with the standard tools of the modders. P2K tools to get a good connection to the phone via USB. ‘RSD lite 2.4‘ to completely flash the phone with a ‘do anything to me’ vanilla operating system (freely available at any good modder site! – of which there are around 8 just for motorola, apparently the best for modding – a good perspective here). OK, good so far. Then ‘LeaderGL Flex Editor XP v.10‘ to configure the system and the way I wanted it, enable hidden capabilities that only the developers know of and allowing me to change and add functions and menu items, transfer any file to any part of the phones system and content areas (pics, mp3s, midis, mp4 vids etc). So completely customise and personalise sounds, start-up images etc etc: Nice. Remember though this is all open source and pretty flacky, fall-over-a-lot software, but for and by a close knit community. Finally a simple tool called ‘Midway 2.8’ (great page on transferring games to Moto mobiles here) which allows me to put on some of the many thousand freely available Java games (in jad format) into the device (oh and that converter from jar to jad files – geeky we go). OK still someway to go to learn all about changing the flex’s at ‘seem’ level – modders know what I am talking about…anyway I am hooked, nothing can stop me!

Now I can have any video I want on the phone, off the web and into the phone in one go. Any game that takes my fancy, I have tried around 50 really cool branded, freeware ones – even buy this weeks ’24’ game for instance and upload it myself, rather than rely on the network to do it for me. Any piece of music, ringtone, wallpaper, start-up screen/sounds, customised menus – More importantly develop my own simple games, build pc, tv, mobile cross-media services – freely, without the network lock ‘wall’ getting in the way.

So where is this ramble leading. Simply to point out the similarity I experienced with the mobile world and early commercial web & tv services. The reason iTunes, Amazon, eBay etc took off is that they can be linked to and from by a million other services – they become mini suns around which other smaller service ‘planets’ gather – and it is these small ‘modded’ hand-built planets where most of the interesting stuff originates. In the hands of independent producers. So when will we see Mobile Phone 2.0. The current mobile world (apart from basic comms, voice, sms, mms etc) needs to move into the next gear as regards commercial content. Admittedly the offering is getting better, now with live TV and storage around the corner – the mobile becomes a mPDR (mobile Personal Digital Recorder – a term I coined in TV-Anytime standard) – and things do get interesting. Now if the video iPod gets connectivity? WiFi, 802.11G or A or as I mentioned earlier WiMax. PSP making wireless telephone calls, in fact hardware convergence is looking as confusing as it ever was. The simple truth will always prevail – make it easy for the people to get to the content they want, and keep the honest people honest and you can make money. We all know what happens when you build walls around people.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

2 pages