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VERITY BUTLER: The broadcast and tech worlds are shifting their gazes to XR solutions and the metaverse. What do you think the future holds for live streaming considering this turn of attention?
SCOTT KIDDER: I think there are a lot of opportunities around creating a more immersive experience, both for the content producer but also for the people who are consuming that content. The first thing that comes to mind are hybrid events. I think live streaming in the metaverse or AR can potentially bridge the gap between physical and virtual events. Perhaps we will start to see a way for people who are attending an event in person to interact more seamlessly with those who are attending virtually. The other thing is there’s an opportunity for more immersive news and storytelling through VR and AR. We’ve got a customer called Citizen that allows people to livestream news that’s happening near them in the moment. It would be amazing to see the ability to have individuals create a more immersive experience for people viewing that information. FABIO GALLO: We continue working through leveraging AI to deliver personalised content – and we’re working on social integration. With live streaming specifically, it needs to become all the more deeply integrated into social media platforms and the metaverse. Finally, monetisation opportunities. Because live streaming is evolving into XR, other new monetisation opportunities will emerge to help creators generate more revenue for sponsorships, brand collaborations and in- platform transactions. Live streams also may introduce currencies or tokens to facilitate those transactions.
ADRIAN ROE: I’m a bit of a sceptic to be brutally honest. The business-streaming world experimented quite hard with augmented-reality and virtual-reality meeting environments over the last few years and, to be frank, it did not go particularly well. I just don’t think the technology is quite there. Will it become the norm for everybody to sit and wear a headset that weighs as much as they currently do? I don’t think it will personally. The technology has quite a long way to go until it becomes so seamless that it’s acceptable. JEAN MACHER: At Harmonic, we have been looking at VR for a long time, with that idea that not everyone can have a front-row seat in a live sports game. By using the headset, you get to experience what only a select few get to have in a physical way. We kept looking at it in this way because one of the things we’ve done for over 20 years is compression, and so of course it’s interesting when there’s a use case that potentially needs a huge amount of video compression. If you do VR, what you see is not 4K, it’s basically much higher-resolution ‘tiles’ that are potentially – in real time – going to be bringing an entire arena, which is a vast technical challenge. You then have compression challenges, latency challenges and lag. I agree with Adrian that I don’t think we are there yet. I don’t know when we will be; there is still progress to be made on live streaming itself first.
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