TV-experience Up to Immersion?

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The ReV-TV project is trying out a new concept of television program. Its objective: using mixed reality concepts to increase the interactivity between the viewer and the program he is watching. "With videogames and Internet, younger generations have got used to interacting with the content they are offered," explains Gérard Briand, R&D engineer at Technicolor and manager of the project. "They are less and less receptive to traditional programs where you remain passive. The basic concept of the project is to borrow ingredients from the world of 3D animation and integrate them into the usual content offered by broadcast TV.

The avatar allows the television viewer to take part and direct himself in the program

"Take the example of a person used to virtual universes, such as Second Life. We will use his virtual representation - his avatar -, and insert it during a TV program. It could be a television game or a talk-show. The avatar allows the television viewer to take part and direct himself in the program, while staying anonymous."

The fusion between real images and computer graphics is carried out in the production studio. "Tools already exist to create mixed reality, but they are not yet mature. The difficulty of the project resides in making them co-operate in real-time. We rely on virtual studio and augmented reality techniques. We compose the final image from recorded video images in the form of temporal textures and virtual objects modeled in 3D. In addition, we are developing scriptwriting help tools to facilitate the producer's task."

On the viewer's side, ReV-TV adds new features to the TV set top box. "Conventional TV terminals do not have interfaces enabling intuitive interactivity. We want to introduce new ways of interacting with TV programs and the set top box itself. We are studying several types of low-cost haptic interfaces similar to those used in game consoles. In addition, a camera associated to the terminal will allow gesture and facial expression analysis that will be used to animate avatars and trigger user actions. We intend to develop relatively cheap solutions because our target remains consumer applications."

As the project started in February this year, the team works hard to produce an operational demonstration in 2012. "Although we focus our efforts on the two ends of the broadcast TV chain - the production studio and the consumer terminal - the final demonstration will involve a real network that could be provided by the ImaginLab platform. Beyond the innovation in terms of technology, our aim is to generate new forms of experience, with a real end-user immersion in the TV program."

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