Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience

The newest standard for wireless data, 5G, can drop the current 20 millisecond network lag time for 4G down to a jaw-dropping 1 millisecond. This improvement will make possible new entertainment formats; your phone could use the camera to watch you while you are watching a movie, and then alter the movie to enhance your experience.

"Right now you make a video much the same way you did for TV," Dan Garraway, co-founder of interactive video company Wirewax, said in an interview this month. "The dramatic thing is when you turn video into a two-way conversation. Your audience is touching and interacting inside the experience and making things happen as a result."

The personalized horror flick or tailored rom-com? They would hinge on interactive video layers that use emotional analysis based on your phone's front-facing camera to adjust what you're watching in real time. You may think it's far-fetched, but one of key traits of 5G is an ultra-responsive connection with virtually no lag, meaning the network and systems would be fast enough to react to your physical responses.

I can't think of a specific instance in which science fiction writers have predicted this development, but I think there are some close misses. You're probably already thinking of the telescreen from George Orwell's 1948 novel 1984:

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.

I was also thinking of the adjustable television from Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel The Simulacra:

He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better in the dire droning-on of the speech... however, no change took place. Too many other viewers had their own ideas as to what the old man ought to be saying, Vince realized. In fact there were probably enough other people in this one apartment building alone to offset any pressures he might try to exert on the old man through his particular set. But anyhow that was democracy.

Dick raises the specific idea of a televised speech that adjusts itself to be more acceptable to individual listeners. Just as scary now as it was in 1964 when he thought of it.

Via CNet and Wirewax.

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