IAB and MRC Join Forces to Develop AR Advertising Guidelines

The global augmented reality market is expected to reach $289 billion by 2030, according to a recent study by Research and Markets, and advertisers have taken notice. While the majority of revenue is generated by software, then hardware, the augmented reality advertising market is projected to generate $1.2 billion in revenue in the U.S. in 2024, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. To help foster growth in that nascent sector, the IAB has teamed with the Media Ratings Council to create consistent definitions and measurement guidelines for ads within AR campaigns. Continue reading IAB and MRC Join Forces to Develop AR Advertising Guidelines

CES: Voiseed Upgrades Its Platform for Expressive AI Voices

Milano-based Voiseed demonstrated its web-based Revoiceit platform at CES, pitched as the best way to manage synthetic voice actors, particularly ensuring that synthetic voices present realistic emotions. The company describes it as a cloud-based solution that uses “generative AI to infuse virtual voices with human emotions and prosody, creating highly expressive, lifelike audio experiences.” While Revoiceit’s most obvious feature is its Studio (imagine Adobe Audition devoted to second-by-second management of voices), it may well be the product’s forthcoming API that provides real value to developers of entertaining technology products. Continue reading CES: Voiseed Upgrades Its Platform for Expressive AI Voices

Google’s Bard AI Is Getting Smarter About YouTube Content

Google’s Bard AI chatbot is getting smarter regarding video queries. Specifically, a new YouTube extension is now able to answer questions about the content of individual videos without requiring playback. “We’re expanding the YouTube extension to understand some video content so you can have a richer conversation with Bard about it,” Google wrote on Bard’s changelog. In September, Google released a YouTube extension that made it easier to find specific videos. This update allows Bard to operate more interactively, sharing detailed information as it relates to YouTube’s visual content. Continue reading Google’s Bard AI Is Getting Smarter About YouTube Content

Amazon Launches Immersive Online Shopping on Prime Video

Amazon has developed a new virtual fan experience that includes shopping and interactive tours to tie-in with popular Prime Video series and films. The first such immersive experience is designed for fans of the Prime Video series “Gen V,” and includes a virtual tour of the show’s fictional Godolkin University, which trains aspiring superheroes, complete with a campus store brimming with actual merchandise that fans can purchase from Amazon. The programming extensions aim to offer “culturally rich environments for customers to discover, learn, experience, and consume more of their favorite stories” while shopping. Continue reading Amazon Launches Immersive Online Shopping on Prime Video

Executives Evaluate AI Proposals for ETC Student Challenge

On April 1, after students presented their ideas for AI-Assisted Experiences during ETC’s latest student challenge, a group of leading tech executive judges engaged the students in a spirited discussion of possibilities, opportunities and ethics related to artificial intelligence. Interactive Media and Game Design senior Toby Zhao and Universal Pictures’ Sherry Wong discussed the uses and limitations of AI in today’s creative process. Psychology graduate Erik Rollins asked whether the industry is thinking about how AI will influence society. Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri responded that society needs standards that will let us know when something is real versus synthetic or altered. It is already too easy to distribute manipulated or false information and rile people up, he said. Continue reading Executives Evaluate AI Proposals for ETC Student Challenge

The Growth of Location-Based Immersive Team Video Games

UK-based Immersive Gamebox has been bringing interactive play to venues, first in London and now in the U.S., where the company is currently in about 20 markets including New York, San Jose, Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City. The goal is to expand to 100 stateside locations by 2025. Teams engage in social play in interactive smart rooms, taking part in adventures based on IP that so far includes about a dozen titles, including “Squid Game” and “Angry Birds.” Players are outfitted with 3D motion-tracking visors and touchscreens, eliminating the need for headsets. Continue reading The Growth of Location-Based Immersive Team Video Games

CES: Dimension X Demos Bonfire Virtual Story Creation Tools

For the most part, exhibitors in the Gaming and Metaverse areas at CES 2023 didn’t touch on the latent problems with consumer adoption of the metaverse. While worlds like “Fortnite” and “Roblox” that draw consistently high MAUs do so because they offer fun mechanics, the many metaverse platforms on exhibit generally did not provide compelling reasons for why companies — much less consumers — should spend time in their worlds. Dimension X’s booth was a standout on the floor, however, as it showcased Bonfire, a soon-to-be-released tool to enable the seamless creation of narrative mechanics within virtual worlds. Continue reading CES: Dimension X Demos Bonfire Virtual Story Creation Tools

IMAX 3.0 Underway with Acquisition of Streaming Tech Firm

IMAX Corp. has acquired SSIMWAVE, a leader in AI-driven video streaming solutions for $21 million in a mostly cash deal. Ontario-based SSIMWAVE lists Disney, Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery among those currently using its technology, which lets streaming and broadcast providers deliver what IMAX says is “the best possible image” to any device for on-demand and live video. The move marks a significant expansion of IMAX’s strategy to deliver its own super-sized content at the highest quality to a variety of screens, including phones. As a service, SSIMWAVE fits IMAX’s financial strategy to generate new, recurring revenue. Continue reading IMAX 3.0 Underway with Acquisition of Streaming Tech Firm

Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

Netflix has licensed “Squid Game” rights to location-based game destination Immersive Gamebox, which will launch an interactive — and safe — version of the deadly competition, at U.S. locations including Manhattan, Dallas, Salt Lake City and San Jose, as well as overseas sites in the UK and Germany. Fans who purchase a ticket for $24.99 to $39.99 (£20.62 to £32.98) can participate in all six challenges from the show using 3D motion tracking visors and touchscreens placed around the room. Players that don’t “survive” will lose “lives,” while winners “earn money in the piggy bank,” though not actual cash.  Continue reading Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

Spotify Debuts Live Streaming In-App, Rebrands Greenroom

Spotify is integrating live audio capabilities from its Spotify Greenroom app into the flagship Spotify service and rebranding the feature as “Spotify Live.” The company says the change “reflects our belief in the future of live-audio creators and live experiences being provided to all 406 million Spotify listeners around the globe.” Spotify Live will continue to live as a standalone app, as well as providing live-stream functionality within Spotify for music and podcasts. Beginning this week, Spotify will enable in-app live streaming for its original programming while independent creators can stream live using the separate app. Continue reading Spotify Debuts Live Streaming In-App, Rebrands Greenroom

Female-Driven No-Code Game App Dorian Raises $14 Million

Fiction writers are invited to bring their art to life as mobile games with no-code app Dorian. Founded in 2018, Dorian offers choose-your-own-adventure play for free, but lets users spend in-app currency to choose narrative paths, promising authors a first-dollar cut of the payments. The company, which builds for iOS and Android, claims a library of roughly 3,500 games, created by a “nearly all-female creator community” of about 250 monetizing storytellers, a number it says is growing quickly compared to other platforms, where it can take years to start earning. Dorian recently raised $14 million in Series A funding led by The Raine Group. Continue reading Female-Driven No-Code Game App Dorian Raises $14 Million

Viewers Choose Episode Order in Netflix Heist Series ‘Jigsaw’

Netflix is exploring another interactive story approach with its upcoming eight-part series “Jigsaw,” currently in production. The heist thriller will allow viewers to watch the first seven episodes in any order, culminating in a designated finale that will tie things up, no matter the path chosen by different viewers. Branching story structure is nothing new to fans of video games and Netflix previously experimented with the format in the “Black Mirror” special “Bandersnatch” and “Love, Death + Robots,” but “Jigsaw” shakes things up a bit in that the series arc can be constructed at random. Continue reading Viewers Choose Episode Order in Netflix Heist Series ‘Jigsaw’

Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

On July 1, experiential entertainment company Illuminarium Experiences will open its first location in Atlanta, Georgia, offering “Wild,” a virtual safari shot by RadicalMedia. The company’s immersive entertainment is intended to offer a kind of virtual reality — but without the clunky headsets. Instead, visitors walk through exhibits with 4K video on giant screens, spatial sound systems, haptic flooring and other interactive features including scent. Tickets for “Wild,” at $35, give the visitor an hour to walk through an 8,000-square-foot room. Continue reading Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

Makers Pop-Up is a 2-day virtual conference for the creative community that explores the merger of technology with storytelling in film, TV, advertising, interactive and animation. The event, scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday this week (June 9-10), will provide a digital space to make connections, meet potential partners and share ideas and resources. Two executives from ETC@USC will offer their expertise on panels: Yves Bergquist will address the “Virtual Creative Muse: The Evolution of AI as Artistic Mentor and Production Assistant” and Erik Weaver will discuss “Fix it in Prep: How Virtual Production Front Loads Creative Decisions and Costs.” Continue reading ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

Disney executives met virtually with USC students on April 7 for the fourth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Mark Mine, director of the Technology Innovation Group at The Walt Disney Studios, along with his Disney colleague Daniel Baker, senior producer of technology innovation – interactive experiences, engaged a group of nine USC students in a one-hour discussion on “The Future of Immersive Media Storytelling.” They discussed the “aura” of effective immersive media, the balance between game elements and narrative elements, the use of light and shadow for user interface and user experience design, and the importance of navigation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling