The Mozilla Festival
Only now getting some time to reflect on my third Mozilla Festival and all the fantastic events and interactions that took place at Ravensbourne College in London this year.
Once again I demoed Hyperaudio at the festival’s Science Fair and it was great to see the encouragement and enthusiasm surrounding that, but the main event for me was Saturday morning’s Second Screen Prototyping session. This post is intended to document that session.
What is the Second Screen?
The ‘second screen’ or the companion app refers to the additional screen you use whilst ‘watching’ the main screen. The main screen is usually the TV, but can also refer to the cinema screen or even the radio. The second screen can be a phone, tablet, game controller, a laptop or PC.
Who’s using it and who’s making it?
Research suggests that as many as 75% people use a second screen already but generally use everyday applications and services such as email, social networking and sites like wikipedia.
Realising the value and opportunity that the second screen presents - many companies are creating a new generation of applications that are tailored and intended exclusively to compliment main screen content.
What can we do with the Second Screen?
Many, many things. To mention a few :
- main screen control
- augment programme* information
- provide social communication around a specific programme*
- facilitate user generated content
- vote, poll and quiz (participate)
*Note my spellchecker doesn’t approve of the word programme but in this instance I mean “A presentation that is broadcast on radio or television.” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/programme
What did we hope to achieve with the Session?
Since second-screen technology is relatively new, the whole concept is a rich vein to mine. I hoped to attract a group with diverse backgrounds that could come together as small teams and paper-prototype a few ideas specific to media genres such as film, sport and entertainment.
How did we get things Started?
More people turned up than I had expected. Thankfully I was helped out with the facilitating by the very able Ben Moskowitz. We started by polling the group on their knowledge of the subject and then talking a little bit about what we thought the second screen was. I then gave a very brief presentation on second-screen stats and some example usage.
It was great to have Mike Pennisi from Bocoup and Travis Daub from PBS’s Newshour join and present their second-screen companion app for the election. We were also privileged to be joined by Simon Klose who’s making an interactive documentary The Pirate Bay AFK using a second-screen app called Linkontrol and has been researching and implementing second-screen technology for some time now.
After the brief presentations we asked people about the sort of media to which the second screen could be applied, encouraged them to form small groups around those different themes and get some ideas down ready for the next stage of paper-prototyping.
The technology behind second-screen apps can actually get pretty complicated but I told everyone not to worry about that and just to assume everything was possible. I wanted to capture ideas.
The various groups were self-organised around the following categories:
- Movies x 2
At about the half-way point we asked folk to share their ideas with the other groups in the session get feedback and re-huddle for paper-prototyping.
So what came out?
Ben and I both moved from group to group and worked on some of the ideas and it was great to see people having fun and not applying a ‘no limits’ attitude to their brain-storming. We were pretty insistent about asking people to get their ideas down on an etherpad so that nothing would be lost and actually I’m pleased to say that some very cool ideas came out of it all.
(Italicised text below represents that pasted directly from the etherpad)
Movies - Part 1
" 1. App for bookmarking clips / time-frames while watching any content
- Options for both unobtrusive bookmarking experience or deep dive into content and social experience while film is playing
- Clips can be shared out to social media
- Metadata surrounding clips is included eg. locations, music playing, actors
- Possible option for SoundCloud-like commenting system on the film’s timeline?
2. Airplane mode for movies… director can indicate moments when interruptions are particularly unwelcome - can delay delivery of sms/redirect to voicemail… or redirect to a voicemail saying you’re watching something and give the option to ‘break in’
Fan fiction on the second screen to extend the life of a feature film
- the file doesn’t change, but the context does
Two UX options:
- a waterfall / list of metadata linked to timecode scrolling (like a Twitter stream)
- a fixed width visualisation (like a Soundcloud player)
Some nice ideas here, certainly I hadn’t considered an Airplane mode but that could be a very convenient piece of functionality given that we could access the necessary telephony APIs.
There was another suggestion that I think could apply to many different forms of media.
3. Second screen for activism - get people when they’re fired up - donate/call your congressman via skype..? “
This is interesting because services like Shoutabout and Avaaz which facilitate news related activism already exist and the second-screen could be the perfect medium to call for action while people are watching related material.
Movies part 2 (Physical Effects)
(Sarah Wolozin, Robert Basden, Wesley Lindamood)
" Physical Effects is a second screen application that serves as a hub to control connected devices in your home. By creating effects in your physical environment, it facilitates a more immersive film experience.
Using sensors on the tablet (camera, microphone) and physical sensors, heartbeat monitor , perspiration monitor (through apps like fitbit) “Physical Effects” will subtly and intelligently adjust light, sound, temperature, and other connected devices while the film is playing.
By sharing your experience with others using this application, ambient sound from their physical space can be incorporated into your home recreating a shared audience experience.
Lastly, to make the experience more tactile. 3-D printers, will be used to print out objects from the film that may be out of view on the first screen but provide more information and meaning to the film. “
This is great - a classic case of thinking without borders. It sounds a lot like something we’ve been working on with Ian Forrester's team at BBC R&D under the umbrella term 'Perceptive Media'. Which coincidentally was demoed later on in the festival.
(William Bailey, Mark Fullbrook, Martin Skelly)
A second screen app that celebrates the emotional rollercoaster of being in the crowd at a football stadium.It pulls in the digital stories created with social media around premier league football matches.
* Principles *
- Celebrating the adversity of team sports fans
- Wider digital conversations of football matches in real time
- Design for passive and passionate fans
- Optional log in
* Criteria *
- Tablet based (mobile options)
- Simple log in and match choice system
* Features *
- Visualisation -
- tweets per minute line graphs
- see tweets in real time
- word clouds
- sentiment and feeling scroller
- Tweet Categorisation -
- correlation to match events on timeline
- encourage game tweets - with themes tweets suggestions
- method of segretating tweets based on hashtag
- Automated -
- knows what games are scheduled
- automated creation of virtual stadiums based on schedule api
- Other -
- match build up - anticipated matches on schedule “
Lots of opportunities with sports programmes, especially live ones. Currently people tend to use their social networking service of choice as a general second-screen app but there’s plenty of scope to tie these services more closely to main screen content.
- Improve on the weaknesses of the first screen
- Give viewers more control
- Enable viewers to participate (or choose not to)
- Add a deeper layer of information and expertise.
- Engage social users
- Increase the flexiblity of the media.
Build a second screen app that interfaces with the user’s DVR. The content provider provides a main televsion stream, but also alternate video or content streams that can be viewed and then return to the main program. Streams can be viewed on the second screen or on the first, depending on user discretion.
The main program can extend or contact depending on the user’s interest. Portions they like may feature longer uncut interviews that seamlessly appear inside the program at the users’s discretion.
User can create commentary using the camera on the second screen and add it to the timeline. Other users see popups that “User X” has created a video comment, watch it now…” Programs grow and nurture communiites of experts to contribute to those programs. “
Again plenty of scope with news apps and this group came up with an interesting idea where it seems that an almost hypertext-like mechanism is applied to video. Allowing viewers to discover and explore there own route through the news.
This was an experiment in process as much as anything else. What happens if you put variety of mostly unrelated people in the same room and ask them to brain-storm ideas? How much do we need to guide the process in order to achieve something worthwhile? Well the answer is that as facilitators we kept our initial presentations to a minimum and moved as quickly as possible to inspire the larger group and provide ‘brain food’ (a phrase coined by Ben).
We encouraged people to break into small groups and had a lot of fun jumping from group to group to see how things were coming along adding input if we felt it was needed but really just encouraging people to come up with their own ideas.
I think the idea to imagine that there was no restrictions was a good one - it allowed people to let their creativity flow and actually, I think all the ideas we got are pretty much feasible.
It took a while to write up but I definitely think it was a worthwhile session and I’d like to thank all involved. Hopefully these ideas will become food for thought for other people and lead to further brainstorming and innovation.
In preparation for this session I undertook a fair amount of research and the end of this post it seems like as good a place as any to share those resources.
- Great Pinterested stuff on Second Screen and Social TV
- Bravo’s “Play Live” Adds Polls, Games to All Its Shows
- KIT digital takes fresh approach to second screen
- 24% of people use second screens while watching TV
- Synchronized second screen
- The Guardian’s Second Screen: your indispensable London 2012 companion
- Anatomy of an interactive: a look at the code behind our Second Screen
- THE RACE FOR THE SECOND SCREEN: 5 APPS THAT ARE SHAPING SOCIAL TV
- Multiscreen PatternsPatterns to help understand and define strategies for the multiscreen world.
- Grab Magic: My hack for The Boat That Hacked #mipboathack
- RWW Recommends: The Best Channel-Surfing Companion App for TV Trivia
- SmartGlass, Xbox 360 and the battle for the connected living room
- Google Multiscreen World
- Making great TV even better: The BBC’s approach to companion
- Shazam Is TV, Not Music
- Use your phone as the controller for in-browser games.
- Is This the Second-Screen TV App That Finally Goes Mainstream?
- Network Service Discovery API support in Opera
- The Second Screen Hype Cycle
- “Second Screen” Ideas for Radio
- IBC 2012: Clash of Four Second-Screen Titans
- Netflix sneaks in some Simple second screen functionality
- Companion screen services - one year on