In a nutshell, perceptive media is either video or audio media that instinctively adapts itself based on information it has gathered on an individual user. Implicit content tailors the media experience more accurately to the user, but is not essential. More subtle feedback such as the user's body language or their physical location can also influence the experience. Artificial intelligence, it seems, has never been more intelligent or intuitive.
It is the Research & Development team at the BBC who are most prominently championing the possibilities of Perceptive Media. Ian Forrester, a senior developer at the BBC says that "Perceptive Media takes narrative back to something more aligned to a storyteller and a audience around a campfire".
While that might all sound a bit elaborate, the basic principle is to deliver a media channel that works on a user-by-user basis. A step forward from targeted adverts on mobiles, direct mail, or product placement in video games, perceptive media strives to intuitively tailor a media interaction with little to no prior programming from the message's creator. The technology behind this sort of media technology is quite frankly breathtaking.
Reuters reported that US companies alone would spend in excess of $200bn on various forms of targeted media in 2012, so the value of such technology is beyond doubt. As the fastest growing area of the communications industry, it is no wonder that massive global brands such as the BBC are working tirelessly to deliver feasible solutions to targeted media. Perceptive media is the eventual, all-consuming goal.
Digital media lends itself to the premise of perceptive media immensely. Whether it is through Smartphone messaging, interactive ads or applications, the potential relevance of perceptive media is huge. Last year for example, hours spent with mobile media soared by nearly 50 percent. That figure looks unlikely to reduce anytime soon.
While the BBC is unsurprisingly focusing on the potential impact for TV viewers, the practical applications for this sort of technology are hugely varied. A subtle yet immersive example of the type of interaction we can expect can be seen in 'Breaking Out'. This website demonstrates the AI in an elevator holding an in-depth, specific conversation with the user of the lift. If you're in the UK, the website will tailor the narrative to your location. The weather, date, news, active social networks and other such elements all affect the story.
Let's just imagine you were watching a type of sport that you'd never seen before (whether that be on your TV, tablet, or any other device). Perceptive Media hardware could show one user a detailed explanation of the rules of the game, while regular viewers would be shown bonus, behind-the-scenes footage instead. Elsewhere, the music playing on the radio in a TV drama might be different depending on your tastes. Better yet, the hardware will instinctively tailor your own individual viewing experience, and compare the overall tastes of a group of viewers to reach the most compatible compromise for everyone involved. Could this unbiased AI spell the end of all those arguments over who is in charge of the TV remote?
While this is only a snippet of what perceptive media can eventually become, it certainly sparks interest amongst the marketer in all of us. While the BBC aims to educate and entertain, the digital industry will wait with baited breath to discover exactly how this sort of technology can be incorporated into digital communications. If you'd like to read more about perceptive media, check out the BBC's Research & Development Blog.