I flew down to Hollywood last Tuesday to attend the Marvell AVANTA launch.
Unlike the vast majority of technology launches which are long on speeds and feeds and short on vision Marvell brought a director, an actor, one game designer, and even had Marvel’s Stan, Mr. Spiderman, Lee (we chatted) at the event.
The directors were Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno), the actor was Adrian Grenier (Entourage, the Devil Wears Prada), and the game designer was Robin Hunicke (Sims, Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox).
Each of these visionaries imagined what a world would look like with the 10 Gigabit speeds that AVANTA promised. Let’s talk about these visions.
Robin Hunicke: Making Virtual Reality Real
This was one of the most interesting presentations I have ever seen. With simple charts she asked us to imagine what it would be like to hold hands with our significant other and walk through a rich virtual landscape similar to what the movie Avatar had.
She pointed out that the technology to create a game that could do this existed but the bandwidth to deliver this solution did not. Something as simple as walking and chatting with someone shouldn’t be impossible and bandwidth, according to Robin, is the fix that is needed.
She asked us to imagine multiplayer games that had no lag, where battles were truly massive and real time, where the social aspects of the game were more realistic, and where game developers could push the envelope on performance again. Something they can’t do today.
Jason Reitman: Making Movies like Poetry
Jason Reitman’s big start came from a movie he created for YouTube he has been doing feature films ever since. He believes that this massive increase in bandwidth will create an environment where people could make movies much like they can now write poetry. Where the tools are simple and the experience needed to use them vastly less then is the case today.
He believes, and I share this belief, that there are millions of compelling stories out there that could make it up to a big screen but never will because the folks that have the stories can’t use, or don’t have access, to today’s tools.
Once we have this massive additional bandwidth he thinks the age of the citizen director will become a reality and that the simple YouTube video will quickly evolve into longer, richer, movies that will form the foundation of a new golden age for media. It really looked like he was imagining a moment like what must have occurred when the first printing press started up and one person could now touch thousands with their ideas relatively easily.
Adrian Griener: Life Would Suck Less
Taking a completely different approach Adrian Griener brought a chair onto the stage and read a script he had written. It was actually rather well done and funny but it came down to the fact that clearly things didn’t work well in his house and bandwidth would help a lot. Actually, given he was complaining about stuff not working it sounded more like what he was talking about connectivity issues and not bandwidth issues most of the time.
However I couldn’t help but agree that a hoped for future would be one where stuff that was supposed to work a certain way actually did and where you didn’t need to be a trained network administrator to service the technology in your own home.
To paraphrase where I think he was trying to go, bandwidth would provide for more centralized, appliance like, service that behave more like your phone does where stuff just works. Hard to argue with that as a benefit.
AVANTA: The Back Room
After the talks Marvell opened up the back room and showcased folks gaming together with zero lag, home high definition video conferencing, 4 screens of HD video streaming real time, and one of the most compelling 3D TV setups I’ve ever seen. All were running on the same AVANTA network.
With the video conferencing they had taken a large (I’m guessing 65”) flat screen TV and put it on its side so that someone could face two of these (one being remote) and the result was just like standing and talking to someone face to face. It was actually kind of interesting given most professional conferencing systems are set up with the idea you’d be talking across a table. However, often, when we chat we are just standing and talking to someone and this approach seemed more natural.
The four video screens were to emulate 4 people watching different HD videos in the home simultaneously. One of the videos, with Bruce Willis (Gorillaz – Stylo) I’d never actually seen before. This showcased one of the coolest home media iPhone/iPod Touch applications I’ve ever seen the Pick Plug ‘n Play product from Eyecon.
This application allows you to manage your media from your iPhone/iPod rather than from your TV screen, huge help given how big the library of media is becoming. Worth checking out if you are into iPhone applications and want to get ahead of the curve.
However the demonstration that really caught my eye was with a, as yet unreleased, JVC flat panel TV that used passive Dolby Digital polarized glasses just like the theaters do. I’ve thought for awhile that the active shutter 3D glasses (costing about $150 ea) used in most of the 3D sets that are coming are simply too expensive and painful to use for anything but gaming and was told that polarized glasses wouldn’t work in the home.
The JVC set, running 3ALITY 3D programming was stunning and shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. Off-center viewing was fine and you could afford to buy better glasses (they have the $2 glasses away at the event but I have some wonderful $40 glasses). I bought for the movies that would work) and use those glasses in the movies as well. (We are likely stuck with the glasses until TVs that don’t need them actually show up that we can afford).
Wrapping Up: I’ve seen the Future and the Future has Honking Massive Bandwidth
I chatted with Stan Lee after the event and agreed with him that the only problem with what we saw was we couldn’t buy it yet. He had evidently gone around asking someone sell him what he was seeing and was very disappointed that no one had parts yet. Even the TV isn’t released yet.
This is as big a jump as going from a modem to your firs DSL line, or from moving from a horse a buggy to a Ferrari in a place that didn’t have speed limits. This is a game changer but I doubt we’ve explored all we can do yet with this proposed 100x increase in bandwidth. What would you do if you could increase the size of the data pipe to and in your home by 100x?
Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them. Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.