Beyond the video wall – responsive content projection

TIM PEARCE from BBC R&D writes:

In the 2-IMMERSE project we are aiming to create a platform which will enable content creators to author multimedia experiences which adapt to the different ecosystems of devices surrounding users. In the Theatre At Home and MotoGP trials, we have focused on second screen (companion) experiences, presenting content on a phone or tablet device that synchronises with the main content on screen.

Our future prototypes, including Theatre In Schools, are designed to extend the capabilities of the platform that may enable the creation of experiences that can be displayed on multiple communal screens, surrounding a larger group of users. By building these features into the platform, we will enable content creators to create highly immersive experiences, including more diverse applications such as digital signage and art installations in addition to traditional broadcast content.

The BBC has been exploring ‘on-boarding’, the end-to-end user experience of 2-IMMERSE experiences. One of the challenges of this is joining many different devices in a room to a single experience, especially as some devices lack a keyboard and mouse. Multiple communal screens pose an interesting use case for layout service which needs to be captured in the on-boarding process. If we want to project our object-based content onto multiple communal screens, how do we know the spatial relationship between those screens and how can we use this to influence the layout of content? Can components span multiple screens or animate from one screen to another?

A really elegant solution to this problem can be found in the Info Beamer project, an open-source digital signage solution for Raspberry PI (above). Each communal screen displays a unique QR Code, which is scanned by a camera-equipped companion device to connect the screens to the experience and determine their relative position, size and orientations. This could be a potential solution for on-boarding a number of large-screen devices in future 2-IMMERSE scenarios.

We will discuss on-boarding and the challenges in designing an end-to-end multiscreen experience in greater detail in a future blog post.