Steerable Video Announced

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a concert video in which the camera angle changes every three seconds, and during the charango solo we're shown a close-up of the vocalist drinking bottled water offstage. More than once I've wanted to reach through the TV and throttle the film editor. But if a recent announcement pans out, it could put camera control into the viewer's hands and bring a whole new meaning to the term "interactive television."

Interactive Pictures Corporation, a developer of immersive photography, is bringing out an enhancement to its IPIX technology, called IPIX Steerable Video. According to IPC, IPIX allows Internet users to "step inside the picture" to view an image however we want to see it---from floor to ceiling or horizon to horizon. IPC's Steerable Video technology is claimed to capture the scene as it is happening---in real time and in real motion.

The technology combines the maneuverability provided by IPIX images with the real-time capture of high-resolution video cameras. The end result is said to be live coverage that is independently and simultaneously navigable by every end-user.

IPIX Steerable Video builds on IPIX's core patented technology of 360°x360° interactive imaging using full-motion video. Using two 180° fisheye lenses to capture two video images, front and back, top to bottom, IPIX software remaps and corrects the perspective of the fisheyes to regular human viewing perspective. Viewers can then navigate the image in real-time using a computer mouse. IPIX Steerable Video currently uses a "mexapixel" video camera, which provides resolution comparable to the IPIX images available on the web today.

According to Jim Phillips, CEO and chairman of Interactive Pictures, "IPIX Steerable Video quite simply puts the broadcast in the hands of the consumer. Our patented technology allows the viewer to choose his own camera angle at a teleconference, sporting event, concert, or virtually any broadcast."

IPC also states that IPIX Steerable Video has significant implications for industrial markets in which full knowledge of an environment is crucial, such as in security, transportation, and engineering.

Interactive Pictures plans to work with MediaOne and Discovery Communications, Inc.---both current equity investors in Interactive Pictures---to commercially test IPIX Steerable Video. MediaOne, a communications company, will provide the broadband network. Discovery will develop the content using the IPIX technology.

"We see incredible value in IPIX Steerable Video---by putting the user in control, it provides an extremely rich interactive experience," said Doug Holmes, executive vice president of MediaOne. "With the continued development of digital television and broadband networks, IPIX will play a key role in providing compelling content for the digital consumer. MediaOne, Discovery, and Interactive Pictures plan to test Steerable Video on a MediaOne network this year."

"Discovery will continue to lead the industry in developing compelling, interactive, non-fiction content using cutting-edge technologies like IPIX Steerable Video," said Andrew Sharpless, senior vice president of Interactive Media, Discovery Communications, Inc. "Our mission is to enable viewers to become part of the adventure, and IPIX allows them to be part of the action by stepping inside the picture."

Let's hope they actually deliver . . .