Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Entertainment and the Internet of Things

Why don't people at the cutting edge of Internet of Things developments talk about entertainment?

I have finally put a shape around ideas that have been forming in my mind for many years. These ideas are about the use of technology for entertainment. I don't mean mobile apps or gaming consoles. I mean the whole of entertainment from Opera to Graffiti, Boxing to Birdwatching. By technology I'm particularly interested in the Internet of Things.

I have been following the Internet of Things in its different forms for many years at both conceptual and engineering/product levels. Most people say, in summary, that the IoT is more connected things, more data and more embedded intelligence. It is systems with a human interface and networks of machine to machine activity. It is a vast increase in sensors gathering contextual information, simple distributed decision making and actuating devices that act on the real world.

They also say the output of this is information - actionable intelligence used to increase efficiency, save money or improve the function of things as well as humans. This is great however it's only one of the two types of information. Everybody seems to overlook the second type which is information that does not lead to any decision.
Information that does not lead to any decision is entertainment.
I have also been lucky enough to have worked within the live events industry which has given me insights into one aspect of the huge entertainment industry. Many events use the latest technologies in creative and challenging ways. Entertainment taps into the human psyche like no other industry. It excites, motivates and causes obsession. It also makes a lot of money.

New shapes have to have a name - and my new shape I've named Smartertainment. It's better than the Internet of Entertainment, but it may be a portmanteau too far!

I hope to make more of this line of thought - maybe building a community of artists and technologists to have fun with this, think hard and to build examples of 'Smartertainment'. Here are some areas that immediately sprang to mind:

  • As cities become smarter what would happen if Graffiti artists took control of some of their functions? Painting with traffic or street lights?
  • Gamification is the repurposing of gaming concepts to active aspects of human behaviour. How can gamification be used to accelerate or magnify IoT benefits?
  • New and currently unrealised forms of entertainment. Machine vs machine sports that are actually interesting? Data as art? Everyday objects as distributed musical instruments? Massively Collaborative Art? Who am I to guess what's possible?
  • First step could be to make a list of all forms of entertainment and think about how IoT could change each one. If entertainment is information that does not lead to any decision that could be a pretty long list!
I'm hoping that others will be excited about this and that there are already people thinking about it like the BBC. If you are one of those please do leave a comment.