A Trend That Will Launch An Overlooked Technology
Superstar film director and producer James Cameron’s 3-D technology company, Cameron Pace Group, announced last Wednesday that it would open a location in Tianjin, China’s third largest city.
Apparently, the market for 3D films has exploded in terms of box-office receipts.
So Hollywood is now aggressively going after the 18 to 34 year old age group. You know—the ones who made Cameron’s earlier 3-D hit, “Avatar,” China’s highest-grossing film, with $208 million in ticket sales.
Let’s compare that to those of us in The West. According to the New York Times:
“Box-office revenue from 3-D films in North America dropped 18 percent from 2010 to 2011, though the 2010 figures included “Avatar,” the first 3-D film to reach $1 billion worldwide”.
Hmmm, maybe the 2008 financial catastrophe has begun to teach Americans to cut back on some luxuries.
“In 2008, two 3-D films were shown in China; roughly 30 will appear in the country by the end of 2012. From January to June, 21 3-D films — 13 percent of all 159 theatrical releases — accounted for 46 percent of the box office gross, according to data from Artisan Gateway, a Shanghai-based film consulting firm.”
What’s more, ticket costs are as much as 120 renminbi ($19) for 3-D and 180 renminbi ($28) for IMAX, but they still can’t get enough of 3D. And by the way, as of last spring, IMAX expressed its desire to install 229 of its enormous screens throughout China.
What’s more: Mr. Cameron’s company opening in Tianjin is part of a government-backed joint venture.
It would seem, therefore, that China’s government is encouraging more expensive entertainment options for its citizens. This shows evidence of a shift in its economy towards consumerism from manufacturing.
In February, for example, they opened the cinema market to foreign films by allowing studios to release an additional 14 (for a total of 34) under the condition that they be 3-D or in IMAX kind of format.
Cameron said, “They’re skipping the 20th century and going straight to the 21st,” just last week.
He’s convinced that the conversion to 3D will occur faster in China than it has anywhere throughout the history of cinema’s development.
But I’m not telling you about this big trend in China because I think you should invest in the movie industry—although there might be some promise there.
I’m bringing it up because it sets the stage for something much more interesting that’s coming to the consumer market. The logical next step for 3D technology is to combine the entertainment capabilities with more practical uses. And there is an emerging, largely overlooked, market worth investing in…
I’m talking about Augmented Reality (AR).
Just this past Wednesday, Google has finally followed up with specifics on what they revealed earlier this year: a developing product at Google X, the company’s secret lab that works on future technologies…
It’s a new computerized set of eyeglasses with lenses that act like a see through computer monitor. You can do virtually anything you could on your smartphone, but right before your eyes in the relevant, real world.
The product aims to solve the problem of information overload.
The biggest downside with all the cool smartphone technologies today is that they’re so distracting. I’m sure you’ve walked into a room where everyone is tapping away at their phones. With this technology, you’ll be able to make commands hands-free with your voice… or even eye movements.
Part wearable computer, part digital assistant…
And it’s set to come out in 2012, at the cost of your average smartphone.
To see an example, click here.
And it’s bound to give Apple’s iPhone a run for its money.
Presumably, the glasses will use the same software used by Android smartphones and tablets.
Likewise, they’ll be equipped with GPS and motion sensors, plus a camera and audio inputs and outputs.
Obviously, as with any new devices, there are concerns. Since Google gets most of its profits from selling advertisements, will retailers buy ads when the wearer is walking past one of their stores?
What about privacy and surveillance issues? Some say the glasses might use visual, location, or even speech data for the use of its advertisement algorithms. What if, for example, the AR glasses recognize others’ faces, and tells you information about them that they otherwise wouldn’t have told?
So far, Google has debugged many of its technologies as they reach the mainstream, so in the long run, there is no doubt that the inevitable bumps in the road won’t eventually be smoothed out.
The real question is: how wills this technology change the way the public interacts with one another?
One way or another, our lives will move from our pockets out in front of our eyes. It will make your environment much more interactive, as layers of reality are added between you and the external world.
To see an example of how it’s already turning the sometimes-tedious learning environment of museums into something more akin to a video game, check out this 3 minute video.
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