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Link-and-Pause (...plus Bookmarks)
       A new paradigm for flexible TV+Web media multitasking in the age of DVRs

(For a more concrete presentation of how this works in practice,
consider a viewing scenario for coactive viewing using link-and-pause with bookmarks.)

The rise of media multitasking

Drag-and-drop made the use of PCs simple and powerful enough for the masses.  Link-and-pause can do the same for media multitasking. 

Growing masses of people now surf the Web while watching TV.  This is building on the wide availability of wireless notebooks, and the readiness of heavy media users (especially younger ones) to multitask.   So far, only a small portion of this multitasking behavior involves a direct relationship between the TV and Web-based tasks, but that will change. 

Using the Web while watching TV can provide access to a wealth of program-related information of all kinds including commentary, news reports, sports statistics, movie casts, audience participation/community, etc,.as well as TV ad-related interaction and shopping. 

  • Presently, users must find such content manually to the extent that they are sufficiently motivated and skilled at finding it which is a hit or miss proposition with uncertain reward. 
  • Imagine how much better it will be when such content is automatically linked to from the context of the TV or video program.  Just as ordinary links make the Web easy to use, these "coactive" links can make media multitasking easy to use. 

That kind of automated support  will encourage the creation of more relevant content and links, which will encourage increased levels of coactivity the kind of virtuous cycle that built the Web in the first place.

Media multitasking offers powerful capabilities, but many still question whether couch potatoes really want to multitask.   That is reminiscent of an earlier question of whether there could be a mass market for PCs one that rightly raised much skepticism until the introduction of graphical user interfaces (like the Mac and Windows) radically simplified PC use.  (One of the hallmarks of graphical user interfaces was the ability to "drag and drop" items from one place to another.)  Bringing the same level of ease-of-use for TV+Web multitasking is where link-and-pause and bookmarking come in.

What is link-and-pause?

Link-and-pause refers to the ability to initiate an interaction related to a TV program (or movie or other video or music) and, as that is done, to pause the program.  This can work like a traffic cop to selectively control multitasking.  In this way intervals of interactvity can alternate with intervals of linear viewing, without either one interfering with the other.   For example, you might link from a movie to the cast and credits to see who an actor is, and what else you saw him in.  Link-and-pause can pause the movie while you do that.   This enables the user to control when both media should be active concurrently and when coactive multitasking should take the simpler path of alternating threads of unitasking activity.

The TV industry does not yet understand how important media multitasking will be.  Part of the reason is that they do not yet appreciate the simplicity and control that link-and-pause offers.  Their concern has been that the TV program will continue on while the viewer interacts with other content, so the viewer misses the remainder of the program.  They fear that users will have a less satisfying experience, and that TV producers will lose their audience, along with the audience for their commercial sponsors.

Similar concerns have been a problem with the original model of Interactive TV (ITV, advanced TV services that lets users interact with program-related content on their TV screen, using their remote control).  These "one-screen" ITV services have been highly touted at various times, and are again gaining favor.  But many remain concerned about these problems of simultaneous multitasking, and that is one of the reasons that those services that have been offered at all are very confined in scope.  And that has been a vicious cycle.

What has not yet been recognized, is how the increasing ubiquity of the DVR (Digital Video Recorders like TiVo, also known as personal video recorders), will largely eliminate the basis for such concerns.  As TiVo's slogan, "TV your way," suggests, the power of the DVR is that it gives users a new level of control over their viewing.  TV producers see things to fear in this (such as ad skipping), but there are also major new opportunities. 

  • With DVRs, users need not let the TV program run on while they pursue a tangential interactive task
  • Most of us now understand that pause button lets viewers answer the phone, go to the bathroom, or get a beer, without missing anything.  
  • What is less widely recognized is that It also lets them pause to check out movie credits, or to get details on a news story or documentary, or to respond to a commercial (which is where the big money is).
  • Right now viewers must do this manually.  They can pause the TV while they pursue a tangent on the Web, then return to the TV.
  • With link-and-pause, this can be automated, so that links are presented to assist in taking such tangents, and the actuation of such links can cause the TV to pause (or not, as the user desires).

How do bookmarks simplify multitasking?

Complemenary to link-and-pause is the use of bookmarking for coactive links.  Link-and-pause gives viewers the power to control the linear flow of video, and to time-shift it as they desire.   Bookmarking of links provides a similar ability to control the non-linear flow of hyperlinks that are associated with video.  This can be done as just a minor extension of ordinary Web bookmarking.

When multitasking TV with the Web, it is often desirable to have links that are triggered by or synchronized with specific video programs (or even specific time-positions within the video).  We may want to be offered more information about something we just saw, or pursue content that relates to a particular segment.  Similarly, advertisers would love to be able to offer Web links that are synchronized to their TV ads to provide additional information and to enable sales.

But again, we come back to problem that such interaction breaks up the flow of a program.  Even with the ability to link-and-pause (so we do not miss anything), we still have an interruption of that video flow.  Sometimes that may be fine, but sometimes it is not.  Much of the power of video as a medium is in its flow its ability to immerse our attention in a story, in a world of sight and sound.  When we are immersed in a continuous medium, we do not want to interrupt that.

That is where bookmarking comes in.   Our media viewing systems can manage triggers, links, or other options for interaction, to let us decide when and how to use them

  • They can be saved as bookmarks, and organized to let us find them based on what program they relate to (or by topic or by advertiser). 
  • We can be made aware of such links unobtrusively during viewing, so we can decide whether to respond to them at that timeor to save them for later.  (Or we can turn notification off completely, so we have no distraction at all.) 
  • Then after finishing our linear viewing, we can pull up our bookmarks, search them by program, time, or subject, and follow them as we like.

By combining link-and-pause with bookmarking, we get flexible control over multitasking on both sides (the video side and the Web side).  We decide when to follow links, and when to continue viewing. 

  • When we follow a link, we decide whether to stop the video and concentrate on the linked material, or to continue the video simultaneously. 
  • If we ignore a link, we decide whether to go back to it later. 
  • If, for example, we are seeking statistics and color on a live football game, we may want to see and follow some links while keeping the game video running in real time. 
  • If, instead, we are engrossed in a drama, we may want to ignore all links until we have come to the end. 
  • If we are watching news or a documentary, or a favorite movie we have seen many times, we may want to link-and-pause while we follow a tangent.
  • When we have finished a video program, we may want to see what links were skipped.  Maybe there is supplementary information.  Maybe there were commercials for products we are interested in. 

These links can go from video to other video, as well.  There might be supplementary video segments, like DVD extras, and they might be linked to specific scenes, allowing for rich hypermedia navigation.

Coactive media and CoTV

This rich multitasking could all be done on a single screen, such as all on the TV or all on the PC. 

  • Doing it all (TV+Web-like tasks) on the TV has a certain simplicity (even if implementing it with current TV platforms has been a quagmire) and it is well suited to simple interactions while we lean back on our sofas. 
  • At other times, we might want to do all of it on our PC, such as in the office, or while travelling when we are willing to settle for a small-screen TV experience that is less than ideal.  (We might also be pushed to do it all on our PCs, because our TV service providers do not want to facilitate such independent behavior.)

But full-blown media multitasking can be far more powerful with a richer, dual-screen, user interface. 

  • Video is at its best on a big screen across the room
  • Web-like extended text, complex navigation, and rich transactional services are far more effective on a PC (with keyboard, mouse, high-res screen, and a full-function Web browser). 

This kind of rich multitasking involves true "coactivity," and is best done with full use of both kinds of devices.   The growing ubiquity of wireless laptops has made that second screen readily available in our living rooms, with no added cost.  Many see great appeal in this coactivity, as applied to TV+Web use, and many are doing it on their own.  But the powers that be remain concerned about how well such media experiences will flow as a user experience, and whether more than a small minority of viewers will want that ...and how it might harm their current revenue streams. 

The answer to that concern is this new combination of user interface featues:  link-and pause, and bookmarking.  They bring flexibility and control to coactivity, enabling the user to easily control when to multitask fully, and when to alternate between TV and Web flows.  That makes it easy for viewers to manage a comfortable pace of coactivity for a wide range of tasks at whatever degree of intensivity they desire. 

  • Some users will not try coactivity at all.
  • Some will keep it simple most of the time, with full use of pausing and bookmarks, and may alternate between TV and Web only infrequently. 
  • But many will become increasingly comfortable with rich and complex combinations of activity. 

Letting the user decide will lead us to powerful media and empowered users.  It will make it easy to pursue a rich and flexible mixture of concurrent and/or alternating use of both video and the Web, following the flow of  the user's attention (both linear and non-linear), enabling a rich form of hypermedia browsing on multiple linked devices (TV+PC or other combinations) that we might call hypertasking.

The TV industry fears this paradigm shift as disruptive to their old order.  But that old order is rapidly losing its viability.  Those who turn into this new tide with find rich opportunities to profit from advanced services.  They will find that they not only add value for viewers, but provide a very compelling platform that adds value for marketing and sales by empowering both viewers and the businesses that seek to serve them.

March 2005

For a more concrete presentation of how this works in practice,
consider a viewing scenario for coactive viewing using link-and-pause with bookmarks.

 
     

Coactive TV 
User-centered Convergence 2.0

new media technology from   Teleshuttle Corporation
 
CoTV Today and Tomorrow
CoTV was ahead of its time in 2002...
Now TV "screen-shifting" and "companion" apps are now changing how people watch TV.
  • iPhone and iPad awakened the giants -- as an irresistible platform for coactive TV apps.
  • AirPlay and Chromecast have made screen-shifting easy and popular
  • Social TV apps (about what you are watching now) are drawing users.
  • Distributors are promoting 2nd screen apps and increasing openness.
  • Independents are using ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) to do it for themselves.
  • Twitter Ad Targeting and Comcast See It are bringing rich new functions to a mass market

The time is ripe for ubiquitous "always-on" TV sync
-- a single app and context portal for any companion content for any show (and any ad).
TV is ready to be reborn for the 21st Century!
...and
still more advanced CoTV features are yet to come.

...Recent blog postings on CoTV developments

Blog: 
Reisman on User-Centered Media

...Recent postings on CoTV
 
News:
Tenth Reisman CoTV patent issues 8/19/14.

Usage scenarios for advanced features
:

CoTV in the news:

Coactivity concept -- initial white papers (from 9/02):

 

 

Teleshuttle offers consulting on coactive media services, and license to pending patents to strategic partners on win-win terms.

CoTV technology can be offered by service providers in TV, Internet, e-commerce, and allied fields. Teleshuttle seeks to cooperate with all industry participants to develop and apply these methods to facilitate simultaneous media multitasking, to assist in the development of services, reference designs, and standards, and to license this technology broadly for widespread use. Partner inquiries and feedback are invited.

Richard Reisman -- Bio
Consulting/About

Contact Information

Richard R. Reisman, President, Teleshuttle Corporation
20 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10003
(212)-673-0225
e-mail: info@teleshuttle.com

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Coactive media:  Relating to media multitasking.  The simultaneous or alternating use of two or more media, such as TV and Internet (Web, etc.), especially where the using of the media is synchronized or coordinated typically (but not necessarily) on multiple devices or screens.

Coactive TV:  Relating to multitasking use of both television and the Internet (Web, etc.).  The simultaneous or alternating use of TV and the Internet, especially where the using of both media is coordinated or synchronized, and especially where the TV and the Internet browser are automatically coordinated with one another typically (but not necessarily) on multiple devices or screens.

Copyright 2011, Teleshuttle Corp. All rights reserved. / Patents pending