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Are Streaming and Virtual Reality The Future of Live Entertainment?

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Streaming services are all the rage today. Netflix is spending on original content more than a smaller country’s GDP. Other media giants (like Disney) and technology companies (like Apple and Amazon) also want a slice of the same cake, preparing (or already having) their own streaming platform. So much so that many have started wondering if Netflix will ever take over from traditional cinemas. The answer is most likely “not yet”, given the attractiveness of movie theaters. But let us look a bit further into the future today, and think of what the impact of streaming and virtual reality, another emerging entertainment trend, can be on live entertainment.

Telepresence

“Telepresence” is a technology that allows people to be in two places at the same time – figuratively speaking, of course. In short, remotely controlled robots equipped with cameras allow people to virtually attend seminars, presentations, and – why not – theater plays while never leaving home. And with virtual reality, their experience can be almost as immersive as actually sitting with the audience. Using this technology, people from half a world away will be able to attend concerts, plays, perhaps even talk shows and other events recorded in front of a live audience. It may in the future present a commercially viable way to increase revenues for theaters and such, at the same time offering viewers a unique and – let’s face it – more convenient and hassle-free experience.

The technology is already here

This might sound science fiction to some of you but it is not – the technology is already here. We have high-definition cameras that can transmit any live event in the highest possible quality pretty much anywhere in the world. We have broadband connections that allow us to follow these HD streams. We have virtual reality headsets that allow us to enjoy these shows in a way similar to actually attending them in person.

And experiments are being made to make use of this new technology in the field of performing arts. A joint project at the University of Tampere (Finland) and the Coventry University (UK) has already engaged in exploring the use of telepresence, offering their students opportunities to engage in intercultural collaborations and to develop valuable global attributes with the use of this technology. A virtual spaceā€š was created in both locations through the re-purposing of video conferencing technology and the use of large rear projection screens, high-speed internet connections and unidirectional, hypercardioid microphones. Moreover, a unified spatial design and a careful use of lighting gave the actors the illusion that they were occupying the same physical space. For more details about the project visit this website.

Streaming and virtual reality do have the potential to fundamentally change how live entertainment is consumed. And it is just around the corner.


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