Televisions have come a far way from their monochromatic ancestors of the 1930's to become the modern age's ultimate home entertainers. Demands and expectations of the consumers have evolved tremendously to put a strain on the traditional mediums of entertainment, i.e. audio and video. Moreover, the advent of internet and has created another dimension in home entertainment – lets call it "On Demand Entertainment" (ODE). True ODE means consumers will be able to watch, listen, play or read whatever they want whenever they want.
The consumers of Televisions now have options of going on the Internet and search for ODE including (but not restricted to) games, news, video and audio. Internet giants like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and Youtube have started cutting into Television industry's profits and have become a major force to reckon with in home entertainment segment.
In a parallel development, consumers now want seamless integration and convergence between the new and the old media of entertainment. This expectation has led to innovation in Television industry in the form of IPTV, satellite TV and internet enabled TVs. These technologies strive to provide ODE as well as try to fulfill the demand for a unified entertainment device. However, true ODE is still a distant dream because of the strain it puts on the storage and computation power of the back-end data centers.
Cloud Computing or internet based computing, which provides on demand storage and compute power to be billed in a pay-per-use basis, comes as a perfect strategic fit to solve the puzzle of ODE. Cloud Computing can provide a solution to the issue of huge requirements in compute and storage to provide true ODE.
This post describes how Cloud Computing can be used to deliver true On Demand Entertainment, using some specific use-cases of:
- On Demand Gaming
- Ubiquitous Media Playback
- Online Personal Media Store
Entertainment today includes much more than the traditional media of books, Television and Radio. As we discussed earlier, ODE has become a major expectation now-a-days. Also, people are now looking for a single device which can take care of all their entertainment needs. Televisions are facing some serious competition in this race for a unified entertainment device from hand held gadgets and Internet. Televisions need help of modern technology to break to the fore-front of this race. Cloud Computing is one such technology which can tremendously help the Television industry.
According to Wikipedia:
Cloud Computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid.
This on-demand Cloud of servers, generally called the cloud, can provide for the huge hardware requirements for some interesting use cases in Television industry:
On Demand Gaming:
Games are very compute intensive applications. So much so that they have dedicated platforms built for serious gamers. Televisions too have in-built games but not of the class of "Core Games". This is because core games require huge compute power that Televisions can't provide.
Now that Televisions have become internet enabled, we can use the compute power of the Cloud to do the computation at the back-end. We can push the gaming consoles on the cloud. All the user interactions can be pushed onto the Cloud; the cloud will compute based on the game rules and send back the results for the Television to display.
This can be a disruptive product in the gaming industry as this will give rise to true multi player games, where players join and leave the games as and when they will. Anyone with an internet enabled Television set can join the game as dependency on expensive gaming consoles will end.
Ubiquitous Media Playback:
Another interesting area of application of Cloud Computing in entertainment industry is of Ubiquitous Media Playback.
Let's take an example:
User is watching a movie on his Television when he suddenly gets an urgent call to go somewhere. The movie is at a very interesting phase and he doesn't want to miss it. He can simply activate his “Ubiquitous Media Playback” feature with the push of a button and the movie starts playing back on his hand held gadget.
For this to become reality, all that is needed is that both his hand held gadget and Television have internet access. The Television starts uploading the movie (from the point where it was stopped) to the cloud; the cloud converts the movie to be fit to playback on his hand held gadget and streams it to the gadget. The gadget resumes playing the movie from the same point.
Thus, a simple application of the power of cloud computing can enhance the viewer experience manifolds.
Online Personal Media Store:
People now try to keep all their media in digital format. They store it on hard disks, CDs, DVDs and BDs. But it still forms a bulky collection with the chance of loosing their data always lingering on top of their mind. What if they had a Personal media Store on the Cloud? What if they can use their Televisions to store all they want on the cloud?
This can be possible. Televisions connected to the Internet can be used to dump all the personal media on the cloud. The Cloud can then sort and organise the media under various categories and make a searchable index of all the user content. This data can then be customized according to the display and other capabilities of all the user‟s devices. The user can then access this library of data using any device he wants.
This can be a pay per use service which can be very easily commercialized.
These are just a few use cases which illustrate the power of Cloud Computing in home entertainment. If we take a sweeping look at the whole home entertainment landscape, there would be thousands of applications of this tremendously powerful technology.
We know that technology is pushing the edges day in and day out. Televisions need to adopt these new technologies rapidly, in order to provide a better experience to the consumers. Cloud Computing is one such technology which has the power of revolutionizing the way entertainment is served. As this paper suggests, the use of this new technology with different applications can make the true ODE provider and a unified entertainment device.