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Multiplayer Broadcasting Could Change the Face of Entertainment as we Know It

December 4, 2017 No Comments

Featured article by Ana Galich, Independent Technology Author

green 300x168 Multiplayer Broadcasting Could Change the Face of Entertainment as we Know ItSOURCE: BBC Research & Development via Facebook

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Research & Development division might not sound like a particularly ground-breaking place to work, but delve a little deeper and you’ll discover that their team are working on something that really could revolutionize the entertainment industry as we currently know it.

Since 2016, the BBC’s R&D user experience team have invested time and money into developing a new kind of audience experience. Significant advancements in real-time rendering have led to the creation of video games that have the audio and visual quality to rival the big screen. Meanwhile, broadcasting has also shifted away from tradition towards a more object-based, IP distribution, resulting in more engaging and interactive user experiences.

BBC Introduces Multiplayer Broadcasting

Combine the quality of live TV broadcasting with the interactivity of online games and you have what the BBC have labelled ‘Multiplayer Broadcasting’. The development of this concept creates a shared virtual world which television presenters and audience avatars are all part of, so that audiences can participate in broadcasts and communicate with live performers wherever they are in the world, without the limitations of physical locations. The Multiplayer Broadcasting project has been two years in the making, with the BBC’s R&D team keen to predict and steer the next generation of audience participation shows and entertainment.

The department acknowledged the continued popularity and demand for traditional TV game shows and the impact of captivating presenters in creating an engaging production, with titles such as The Crystal Maze and Hole in the Wall proving particularly fruitful. The team then assessed how other game shows have successfully integrated virtual reality elements into their programmes, with the late-1980s classic Knightmare pioneering the use of virtual reality ‘gameplay’ by placing players inside a virtual world despite it being one they couldn’t see for themselves. Meanwhile, Bamzooki – which first aired in 2004 and finished in 2010, presented by BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey, was centred around contestants’ creation of ‘Zooks’ which were computer-generated to take part in battles in an augmented reality environment. This, combined with consumers’ appetite to watch hour-upon-hour of live streamed video game action on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch as part of the rise of eSports suggested an amalgamation of these features could be the future.

Would you be interested in The Watch: Live?

Consequently, the BBC’s R&D department is planning the creation of a show which places online audiences in a virtual world, allowing them to take part in ‘missions’ and ‘battles’ on live television. Within their London and Manchester labs, the team have produced a mock version of what the show could look like, called The Watch: Live, to ascertain the appetite for such a television programme. The show would also feature a non-playing physical presenter within the virtual world to narrate the action and preserve their showmanship and screen presence.

The BBC said of Multiplayer Broadcasting: “We see it as the next iteration of audience participation shows in a broadcast-VR enabled future.”

Practical uses of live streaming to counteract real-world limitations

The BBC’s research is one of many technological developments to investigate and solve the limitations of real-world locations. Live video streaming is one of the most significant advancements to occur in recent times. While video streaming has become part and parcel of everyday life, it’s important to not to underestimate the significance of the tech involved, which has created more engaging entertainment experiences than ever before. Such applications go from on-demand live sport on apps and websites such as ESPN Sports to livestreamed table games of blackjack or roulette managed by on-screen human dealers at as Betway Casino, the action can be streamed to your smartphone, tablet or desktop PC at home or on the move. Optical Camera Recognition (OCR) technology has taken live streaming to a whole new level too – and not just in the world of entertainment. OCR-enabled live video streaming has created world-leading automatic number plate recognition software that is now deployed in more than 200 countries as a measure to solve cases of organised crime and terrorism around the world. The protocol, which is actually open-source and available on GitHub, is capable of reading and capturing number plates from vehicles travelling up to 186mph (300km/h), giving police and security forces 24/7 situational awareness and real-time updates.

Apple has also developed a new way to enable consumers to capture live streamed content from video, audio and microphone outputs that can be reviewed, edited, saved and shared with the rest of the world. ReplayKit, which is compatible with iOS 9.0+ and tvOS 10.0+, empowers mobile apps that generate their own content to stream their content to a broadcast extension in high-definition quality, with minimal performance impact and low power usage. It’s been particularly popular in the mobile gaming sphere, with leading gaming titles such as Call of Champions, Modern Combat 5 and Galaxy on Fire using the functionality to record and broadcast gamers’ experiences across the globe.


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