Nokia's Innovation Agenda18 Dec, 2017 By: Thomas K. Arnold
With the Consumer Electronics Show playing in Las Vegas, Finnish networking company Nokia — previously known in the United States for its mobile phones but now a large networking company delivering some of the largest networks of today — is bent on overcoming its virtual reality stumbles with a renewed push toward innovation.
Two months ago, the company stopped development of its pricey high-end Ozo virtual reality camera, citing the slower-than-expected development of the VR market.
But the company’s innovation agenda is a lot broader than that.
Nokia recently launched an Open Ecosystem Network (OPEN) where innovators, entrepreneurs and developers collaborate on real business challenges.
The future of the network is described in the Nokia Bell Labs book “The Future X Network: Enabling a New Digital Era.” Nokia Bell Labs is an American research and scientific development company, owned by Nokia and headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J. It has laboratories around the rest of the United States and in other countries. The book outlines how Bell Labs — a historic R&D company that was once part of AT&T — sees this future unfolding and the key technological breakthroughs needed at both the architectural and systems levels.
In September, Nokia gave its perspective on the future of entertainment with the release of “From Television to Any Vision,” a report that forecasts how entertainment content will be discovered, accessed and enjoyed, resulting in a dramatically different consumer experience by 2025 and requiring new networks to be built as described in Future X Networks.
Paul Larbey, head of the video business unit at Nokia, said that by 2025 the consumer content experience will be unrecognizable. Screens will be everywhere — and virtually any surface has the possibility of becoming a display. Plus, they’ll be much thinner and larger in homes and more flexible and vibrant in various mobile form factors. Pay-TV operators will offer consumers unrestricted and unlimited access to every program on demand. In addition, the lines between content that is live, on-demand, curated, time-shifted or created virtually, will blur to the point of invisibility.
“Innovation in new content formats and technologies will provide users with an increasingly rich, immersive, and personalized content experience,” Larbey said. “Consumers will even be able to delay their social media services to align with their TV consumption. Within this environment, any brand with video, be it amateur or professional, will be a potential broadcaster. Reduced barriers to entry will allow these brands to achieve unprecedented scale and reach across operators’ services in minutes and hours rather than the weeks and months typical today. The consumer experience will be seamless.”
Accordingly, Nokia at CES — which opens its annual run in Las Vegas on Jan. 9, 2018 — plans on broadening the discussion on Any Vision with new ecosystem partners, recognizing no one company can do this alone and that such a vision requires cross industry focus.
As consumers increasingly seek access across their multitude of screens and devices to all of their content (be it live or on-demand) while continuously demanding the latest and most engaging content from old and new brands, Nokia believes that a shift is taking place from a world of television to a new experience Nokia calls Any Vision. Any Vision articulates not only what could be technically possible by 2025 in content markets around the world; it also paints an inclusive picture of what the mainstream consumption experience for users might be like.
“In recent years, broadcasters, Pay-TV operators, content owners and aggregators — set against the growing range and penetration of connected consumer devices — have sought to make their live and on-demand content quickly available across each and every device that reaches the market,” Larbey said. “The depth and breadth of available consumer content has never been greater, nor the range of devices on which to watch it.”
As the screens on which consumers watch favorite content continue to grow in number, any given moment can be an opportunity for consumption. Video, from professional and amateur content brands alike, will be available not only across and between more surfaces than ever, but will also be consumed in an array of form factors. Imagine a hologram arising from the kitchen table during breakfast. Then you get in the car and the morning’s news continues on the windshield on the way to work with the latest market fluctuations of your stock portfolio available to review. Then when returning home from a long day of work, a couple can turn their wall or a window into an in-home movie theater screen and choose from thousands of custom entertainment options at their fingertips. This will have the effect of challenging users to experiment with favorite content formats and types in new and unexplored settings and creating new opportunities for consumption.
Larbey said all of this new technology will force the “smart” out of the TV into the network, which becomes even more critical in the delivery of the experience. From new phones that feature projector technology that can turn any wall into a giant screen, to VR goggles that can bring a movie theater experience alive in front of the user’s eyes to holographic images that enable characters like R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars to enter the living room, consumers will be able to control and consume entertainment from anywhere in the world.
The popularity of Amazon Echo and Google Home today is paving the way for voice control as a key control mechanism of the future. At the same time, eye-tracking technology from companies such as Tobii and Intel are evolving beyond the gesture controls of Xbox Kinect and set-top boxes to push hands-free controls as the next norm in entertainment. These technologies will become staples of mobile pervasive displays.
“Advances at every turn will drive consumers (even more so than today) to watch video wherever they are. In the home or on the move, automation will create more leisure time that we can use for consuming content … think of driverless cars,” Larbey said. “This will also reinforce the operator’s importance as aggregator, curating live and on-demand content attuned to users’ needs, tastes and behaviors across all their devices — and so, too, across all of their screens. These technologies will also inspire content brands and providers, together with operators themselves, to innovate and invest in new content formats and technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree video.”
By 2025, Larbey said, Nokia believes display surfaces and devices will surround users wherever they are, and these screens will have immediate access to more content than ever before across any screen. But new technology will make it easier to consume this content. Curation will drive consumption, inspiring the development of new and immersive content formats. And as new brands emerge and scale, the redefined “channels” of today will flourish to become wider content entry points.
“The concept of television will be left in the history books,” Larbey said.