July 1, 2021
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Next Up. This week: Atlanta's Illuminarium features advanced Panasonic tech for glasses-free VR-like experiences, and Google TV will have celebrities recommend movies and shows.
(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Next Up every week.)
A new events space in Atlanta is promising to offer VR-like experiences without the glasses: The Illuminarium, which opened its doors Thursday, uses 360-degree video projection mapping across an 8,000-square-foot event space to immerse attendees in a virtual safari, complete with the ability to walk up close to lions and other wildlife.
"We want to democratize the world's most extraordinary experiences," said Illuminarium EVP of technology and content Brian Allen at an event this week. Illuminarium aims to open additional spaces in Las Vegas and Miami in the coming months, with plans to expand to other cities in the U.S. and internationally after that.
And it really does seem immersive. "Wild," as Illuminarium's first ticketed experience is being called, makes use of haptic floors, binaural audio, 360-degree projection mapping and even smells. "We aim to bring as much technology to the experience as possible," Allen said.
But there were some challenges. The two companies, which began working together in late 2019, soon realized that Panasonic's existing lens lineup wasn't quite up to the task — so Panasonic developed a new custom short-throw lens optimized for Illuminarium and similar spaces.
Illuminarium plans to follow up "Wild" with "Space Walk," something the company bills as a "mind-blowing journey through our Solar System." And the two companies aren't done adding new tech to Illuminarium's space, either.
Big venues like Illuminarium seem like the perfect candidate for advanced projection mapping, but Conover told Protocol that there may be other opportunities for this technology as well. One example: Empty mall storefronts could become immersive entertainment spaces, ready to rent out to small groups of friends who want to experience live 360-degree telecasts of music festivals together without having to travel to far-away concert venues. "We will see these smaller spaces," he said. "Entertainment in the future is different."
"We have a 100-day plan." —Jack Dorsey, promising during a live Twitter Spaces conversation that we'll see a closer integration of Tidal with Square and its Cash app soon.
"We have some techniques we're working on for Magic Leap Two to provide for a better outdoor experience." —Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson, hinting at a previously unannounced feature of the company's next headset.
A survey of 12,000 employees by Boston Consulting Group found 60% of respondents want flexibility as far as where and when they work. As the world plans to safely reopen businesses, educational institutions, health care facilities and government entities, we are focused on innovating across our platform to support their needs.
Don't know what to watch? Laverne Cox is here to help. The "Orange is the New Black" star has been tapped by Google to launch a new "Watch With Me" feature on the company's Google TV platform.
Companies aligning themselves with celebrities to hawk their products is nothing new, but there's something intriguing about the idea of curating watch lists this way. Most smart TV platforms and streaming video services rely on a mixture of AI and editorial curation to recommend new things to watch. The results can be more or less helpful, and ideally improve over time.
What's often missing is an editorial point of view. Sure, platforms may occasionally tap into cultural and even political issues by highlighting Black voices or LGBTQ content. But you won't ever really find anyone who tells you why you should watch a movie, or why a show moved them.
And it's not just movie recs. Think back to your college days, when college radio DJs surprised listeners by playing loud punk songs after soothing ambient tracks. Surprises like that don't happen very often anymore.
Perhaps a better analogy for this day and age would be Spotify, which has long realized that content discovery needs both AI-driven personalization and strong opinions. The company's playlists have been key to its success, and some of the more popular expert-curated ones have in fact launched successful artist careers.
Spotify also shows that playlists can be delightful even if they're not popular. We all like to share, and everyone has that friend who always knows which of the latest shows are must-watch TV. Wouldn't it be great if you could give that friend some space on your TV home screen, and discover some of the gems that the algorithms would have missed?
Remember the ongoing legal fight between Sonos and Google? Last month, expert witnesses for the two companies testified via video, and transcripts of those testimonies were published a few days ago. I won't bore you with all the details, as much of it comes down to semantics around networking technologies and similar issues. However, one thing stood out to me: Questioned why he bought certain Sonos speakers in the past, Google's expert declared: "As part of my work and research, I have, I would say, an unusually large collection of speaker products, and I've purchased them to evaluate their acoustic performance, compare them to others, and so on." All I could think was: That's exactly what I tell my family!
Thanks for reading — see you next week!