watching TVHOME

Much research into social interactive television looked at the development of interactive services, offered whilst watching the TV content, that enable people to enjoy the social experience of TV even when they are in separate locations. Approaches include being able to share the viewed content – by seeing what friends are watching when programmes are broadcast or synchronising the watching of time-shifted content, sending recommendations and sharing favourites, or even sharing the remote control – and to comment on what is seen – by text chat, video conference or through avatars. Examples of prototype systems include AmigoTV (Alcatel-Lucent), CollaboraTV (AT&T), ConnectTV (TNO), and CoSe (Siemens); research endeavours along these lines have been presented and discussed, for example, at the Social Interactive Television Workshop at EuroITV 2007. In this approach, the TV programme, created by professionals, is the centre-point, and the other activities revolve around and are complementary to watching it. The programmes’ performers are different from the audience. The TV programmes (both recordings and live transmissions) are distributed (e.g. broadcast) in a star model – from the distributor to each member of the audience – whilst the aforementioned complementary services provide for direct connections between the members of the audience

 What if the focus of the social interaction is shifted on other activities (i.e. not on watching TV programmes), such as social game-play, recounting of memories or even informal chats, between small groups of people who know each other (such as family and friends) but happen to be in separate locations? What if the professionally prepared TV content is replaced by an audio-visual communication, virtually directed, between them? Could the central role of the television screen be exploited when the performers become the same with the audience? Could the television’s well established narrative forms and cinematic techniques be exploited in such a context? Could such an approach lead to a better sense of social belonging and togetherness? Could systems that support such forms of social interaction be built?

This EurolTV2009 workshop, to be held on 3 June 2009, seeks to address these questions, and others that arise when exploring possibilities for devising enjoyable social experiences for people in separate locations when the screen is seen "merely" as a generic display device and not a "television" in its traditional sense.

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