To us geeks, it seems obvious that eventually all media will become on-demand and streamable over the Internet. But the large media companies that are often the gatekeepers to the content we want have been slow to adopt this method of distribution. Rumors have been circulating that Apple is working with TV and cable providers to try and “unbundle” the cable/satellite TV model, effectively creating an a-la-carte system where consumers can pick and choose the channels they want, instead of being forced to pay for a bunch of channels they don’t want in order to get they ones they actually like to watch. We’re probably still a few years away from that happening. Still, some content providers are stepping up and releasing their own apps that allow for on-demand streaming now. The latest high-profile name to jump into this arena is Disney.
This week, the media giant announced the launch of its DisneyLife streaming service. DisneyLife allows a family of up to six members to gain access to a comprehensive collection of Disney media including movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, and e-books. It’s unclear at this point just how deep the DisneyLife library is. But considering how much intellectual property the company controls, DisneyLife’s potential seems almost infinite.
For now, DisneyLife is only available in the UK. There are plans to expand the service into other markets. Disney currently has licensing deals in place with Netflix for some of its properties, which probably explains why DisneyLife isn’t launching right away in the States. But it seems like only a matter of time before the service is available everywhere.
Today Disney announced that they are closing their online web movie service on December 31. This service allowed consumers to watch any Disney or Pixar movie that were available.
I have to admit I have never used the service and I don’t know anyone who does. However after reading its limitation I am not surprise it failed. The videos couldn’t be downloaded. You could only watch them on a computer through a web browser. No watching them on an Xbox 360, PS3 or other internet connected devices. If Disney wanted to create a service that was guaranteed to fail they couldn’t have done a better job. In an era where consumers want to watch videos when and on what device they want, Disney created a platform that did the exact opposite. It is pretty clear why they did it they wanted to maintain control and prevent piracy. However in their attempt to maintain control, they drove consumer to other options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
If you purchased a Disney Combo Pack, you can transfer the Digital copy either to iTunes or Windows Media Player. Disney said they are working on a new service called Disney Movies Anywhere, that would allow consumers to watch Disney and Pixar movies anywhere across multiple devices. No launch date has been announced at this time. Even if Disney has a successful relaunch of their online video service. I wonder if a service that only provides videos from a single studio, even if that studio is Disney and Pixar can survive in an era that include services like Netflix.
As ubiquitous as touch screens have become over the past decade or so, the future of touch technology is right around the bend. Actually, it seems to be in Pittsburgh, PA, of all places. Even less expectedly, it can be found at the Disney Research facility there.
The new technology is a complex touch and gesture sensing technology called “Touché” that uses a Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique. This technique essentially allows for sensors to read a range of actions, touches or gestures, rather than the conventional, binary approach we see now with touch screens (basically, touch or no-touch).
In addition to reading complex touch actions over a range of objects far beyond our current touch screens (think doorknobs, furniture, appliances), Touché can also be implemented to read gestures.
As usual, seeing this new technology in action does far more justice than simple explanation. Some of the examples are pretty impressive – controlling the music player on your phone or device through customized hand gestures. Some are just plain weird – teaching children how to eat cereal by sounding a buzzer when they use the wrong utensil (seriously, who came up with that one? That’s some old-school psychological conditioning right there).
The practical implications of this technology are fascinating. With the sensors used to capture gesticulations and touch interactions with virtually any object, this type of technology widely implemented could fundamentally change entire environments. Your door handle “learns” your touch. Your couch learns your entertainment habits and adjusts ambiance based on your posture. Heck, this stuff even works underwater.
Pretty impressive stuff from the folks that typically bring us cartoons and kid’s programming.