Apple, ARKit and the future of TV

Consumers and enterprise chiefs need to think about the impact of virtual experiences on traditional media channels if they want to stay relevant.

Apple, iOS, iOS 11, ARKit, Apple TV, iPhone, television, Ericsson,
IDG / Hayden Dingman

Driven in part by Apple’s iPhone-inspired mobile revolution, audiences are changing dramatically, and enterprise and marketing execs must think ahead to where the media puck is flying.

iPhone natives are everywhere

You don’t have to dig too deep to see how traditional media models have changed. Take a subway journey, and you’ll be surrounded by people staring at their iPhones.

When we get home, we are already more likely to watch a streaming channel than to endure the pap provided by broadcast TV. At work, we’re as likely to be involved in virtual meetings as we are to be engaged in them face to face.

The inference for most is that Apple’s adventures in enterprise technology, augmented reality (AR) and television will inevitably align, and both consumers and enterprise pros need to think hard about what that future holds.

Enterprises need to reach people

“Like any tool. You can see there’s wonderful use and then there’s misuse,” said Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive at the NewYorker TechFest.

Smartphone addiction is a real thing — and while Ive and others in the industry seek ways to mitigate the impact of it, a profound change in how consumers engage with content is also taking place.

The shift from traditional to online and television to smartphone screen is accelerating.

Ericsson spoke with 20,000 people in 13 countries for a new report in which it notes that 70 percent of consumers now watch TV and video on their smartphones — that’s double those who did so in 2012.

That’s a challenge for anyone involved in trying to reach audiences — from marketing to PR, manufacturing to service industry.

These people must figure out how to create engaging audience-focused communications that work across multiple channels. There’s a big opportunity to do so, according to Ericsson, which says the amount of time we spend watching ‘television’ is increasing — even though the ways we do so are diversifying.

Sharing virtual experiences

Augmented and virtual reality may form an important part of the future media matrix.  Apple’s move to launch ARKit in iOS 11 is already creating a wave of interest among consumers, enterprises and developers.

They should be interested.

Ericsson predicts “one in three” consumers will be using VR by 2020.

How will they use it? They’ll watch live sports, enjoy music concerts and seek out shared experiences.

Around 41 percent of those already watching movies and TV shows using VR headsets do so together with others in virtual space.

That suggests the evolution of shared VR experiences users can access through ARKit.

Perhaps this is what Apple was thinking of when it introduced the animoji avatars that depend on the face-scanning technologies inside of iPhone X. Perhaps these will become the online representation of you and your friends in AR space.

Consumers want elegance, quality and choice

That brave new AR/VR world has a few hurdles to pass. Consumers want elegant handsets, high-quality images and a broad forest of content before they really embrace the tech.

Apple may be able to kick-start this. Not only has iOS 11 put AR experiences into hundreds of millions of potential devices, but it has also crafted a major market developers can seek to please as they strive to code their way to fortune.

Of course, the evolution of AR and VR within video may also be informing Apple’s attempts to build a powerful media team to drive its own efforts. It certainly informed conversation at the annual MIPTV event in Cannes, France, this year, where a lot of attendees showed interest in this BBC/HTC VR collaboration.

Meanwhile, in India, news organizations are beginning to think about how these technologies can be used in news journalism.

A new dream for the Apple TV

There may be trouble ahead for traditional television manufacturers, as a big chunk of people see the use of VR/AR solutions as a way to replace the television itself.

“As well as these aspects, potential VR users believe the technology will bring one more thing to the table: the ability to watch 4K/UHD content without owning a big physical screen," the Ericsson survey found. "Almost half of this group think they will be using VR for this purpose.”

If that is indeed what happens, then it makes sense to begin thinking now about what kind of insanely personal VR and AR experiences may make it through increasingly ads-resistant consumer consciousness once content becomes virtual and traditional provision models mutate. It’s also worth thinking about what happens once the future of television really does become apps.

Will audiences even use a TV?

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