While widely covered in the media, most people had the potential impact pass over their heads in a thin video player being placed inside a copy of Entertainment Weekly. Yes, I did see references to the movie “Minority Report” in a few blogs and how we’ll be eventually throwing cereal boxes across the room with annoying sugar-coated characters jabbering away at us or our nation’s kids. But the potentials for Madison Avenue now that a thin LCD player can be incorporated into every nook and cranny of the world are either beyond all expectations for advertising or a dreadful process that could be counterproductive. Paint it eerie, though, that a futuristic movie showing this technology run amok can potentially bring a corollary of existence into reality.
The technology itself is merely a seed at this stage, though. Using the tech of thin film transistor liquid crystal display, only select people in L.A. and NYC (as usual) were able to see a preview of the new CBS fall season in this video form through their print subscription edition of Entertainment Weekly. As of this writing, what those particular people thought of seeing a contrived video play inside their copy is unknown. Based on educated guesses, the most logical guess of that thought was “CBS paid mucho bucks for this?” going by the probability of the images not being impressive enough at 320×240 lines of resolution.
Also, as with any new technology, the test runs utilizing hosts and actors are usually done in ways that can easily instigate a roll of eyes from here to Asia. Every past technology from the first demonstrations of sound in movies to the first television transmissions to the advent of widescreen in movie theaters, the demonstrations by the actors hired are usually made with the worst writing imaginable and the cast seemingly flummoxed at being part of the demonstration in the first place.
All you have to do is see the hilarious scene in the classic musical “Singin’ in the Rain” where the first talkie movie is presented with a contrived demonstration and an overly affected host.
“I’m here to demonstrate talk-ing pic-tures.”
It’s based on truth.
But the thin LCD player in Entertainment Weekly wasn’t just a demonstration. It was a 40-minute preview of those above-mentioned CBS fall shows. It also wasn’t a mass demonstration as with a lot of those earlier technologies. Not that America wouldn’t get one eventually as soon as the technology is a little more refined. Perhaps we should dig “Minority Report” off the DVD shelf and see if we can spot a building with the name of Americhip, Inc. somewhere in the background of the movie since they may be the ones to blame once we start seeing thin LCD advertising in every place we shouldn’t.
Or, if it stays just in print publications, it could be the saving grace for that form of media and give a surprising turn of the tables in the competition against internet.
In case you’ve never heard of Americhip, Inc., they’re based in the unsurprising city of Los Angeles, CA. They’re also responsible for creating the microchip in greeting cards that enables them to play that wonderfully annoying music. With greeting card chip technology being around for more than 25 years now, it might make some of us wonder what took so long to get thin LCD players into print media.
Certainly magazines could have used the technology already a decade ago when the internet first started cutting into the sales of print publications. It wasn’t long after that when “Minority Report” came out under the direction of Steven Spielberg and via the astute and pillaged mind of Philip K. Dick when we saw the potential madness of thin LCD technology used to diffusely advertise. Even though we’re already getting elements of that through other advertising methods on modern technology, having a thin LCD screen capable of being placed in any location imaginable doesn’t seem all that far off now. Plus, when they have an easily rechargeable battery that lasts for a long time, it also seems relatively cheap.
The biggest hurdle in the Entertainment Weekly video player was that the video could be played more than once if you were willing to plug in the battery to recharge via a USB plug-in. Yet it’s that little inconvenience that tells us we’re still a long way away from having images playing on a continuous loop in a magazine or Harry Potter-inspired newspaper. That kind of news probably gives a sinking feeling to the head brass at print media who may have been thinking the technology could potentially save their industry from the dominance of internet.
This isn’t to say that it still couldn’t if technology speeds up as much as it has. In just a couple of years, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see technology akin to what we saw in “Minority Report.” For the world of print media, though, time is of the essence. They’ll need less than two years to make any dent against internet or face further ruin. Then the problems arise of how the populace assimilates those thin LCD displays in their print publications. The convenience of internet comes in being able to play videos when you want them and having the ability to turn them off when you want.
Should we see LCD displays that play in a continuous loop with annoying, attention-grabbing graphics or hosts, that haunting scene of Tom Cruise throwing the chatty cereal box across the room wouldn’t be just a bemusing piece of Science Fiction. Similarly, thin LCD players that inevitably malfunction and continuously play while your magazine or newspaper sits on your hassock paints a future scene of someone ripping a print publication to pieces before it has a chance to be thrown in the recycle bin.
Through all the inevitable refining, the development that it exists at all means we have a new potential of something competing with the internet in coming years. It means tables are turning faster in something suddenly usurping something else and keeps us from guessing any outcome, unlike the precogs in “Minority Report”…