Gadgets Galore in our Comfortable Living Room Lab
Someone once said, “Seeing is Believing.” At CableLabs, we believe that “Doing is Knowing.” With this in mind, we crafted a space in our Sunnyvale, CA facility that we call the Moveable Experience Lab (aka “MEL”).
The MEL simulates a consumer living room. The space has been intentionally designed as a “safe place” to frame your own ideas and opinions about experiences influencing consumers habits today.
Everything in the lab is meant to be touched, used and experimented with – similar to a Discovery Museum for adults. Haven’t tried Oculus Rift, VR or 360 Content? We’ve got it. How about the Amazon Echo? We’ve got it. HBO GO, Xfinity1, Google Glass and smart watches and UHD TV’s…check, check, check and check. The good news? Unlike crowded conference floors or company demos, visitors are not rushed to take their turn or see a limited aspect of the experience. Visitors are encouraged to take as much time with any technology they are interested in so that they can get a full sense of what might be the big “wow” associated with any one of these consumer tech experiences. Further, CableLabs personnel are frequently on hand to offer their own insights – or just to converse about the technology – without the pressure of press or others waiting for you to form an “official” opinion. Sometimes, just talking about what you’ve observed helps to ensure that the learning sticks or could inspire you to have new ideas about new possibilities.
Right now, MEL contains several experience exhibits:
Battle for the Living Room
Experiences for the Sony 65” UHD Display
- Comcast: Xfinity 1 with Voice Remote - demonstrating personalization (guide preference), recommendations, and voice navigation via Comcast Voice Remote.
- AppleTV: Demonstrating uber aggregation and an ultra simplified remote.
- Amazon KindleFire TV: Features an elegant voice remote and categorized discovery guide (with recommendations based on viewing habits).
- Playstation 4 (with 2 gaming controls) featuring Playstation Now: An ecosystem for games, movies, music, etc.
The Evolution of 3D Experiences in Head Mounted Displays/Mobile Devices
This exhibit shows the progression of virtual reality in the head mounted display form factor. This is probably one of the fastest growing areas of technology and, by all counts, is staged to become a significant consumer trend.
- Google Cardboard (used with any smartphone): Google Cardboard was handed out free last year at Google I/O as an example of a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR and VR applications.
- Google Glass: 2nd Generation: The last beta generation of Google Glass. Google Glass was a large-scale experiment meant to “free people from looking down at their cell phones — and look up.”
- Oculus Rift (version 2) (non functional): Representation of the state of development in 2012.
- Samsung Gear VR Headset Low Cost Headset (run on Android Phone): Demonstrates growing number of 3D-interactive titles and games as well as 360 Degree content. As a $99 accessory to a smartphone, this product is expected to cause the tipping point that will be instrumental in bringing Virtual Reality experiences to the masses.
Evolution of the Smart Watch
Like the mobile OS battles, Apple and Google are set to compete for the wrists of consumers — and life-style brand status. Visitors to the MEL lab can gain a sense of how quickly the wearable market has been populated and is evolving.
- 2012 - MetaWatch: First smartwatch of the latest wave of Smartwatches
- 2013-14 – AndroidWear Watches (built from same SDK, different Brand UX): Requires android phone to work. Smart watches with apps, tracking, and mobile notifications and a market place of 4K+ apps.
- Motorola 360 – Round Watch: First round interface (note the UX)
- Samsung Gear: Samsung’s interpretation of the Android Smartwatch SDK
- 2015 - AppleWatch (requires iPhone to work): A watch experience aimed at the luxury experience featuring a high-end display, materials, ApplePay and a 8.5K+ apps.
Tablet Experiences (Apps)
- Watchable: Comcast’s new, cross-platform video service that curates a selection of the best content from popular online video networks and shows in an easy-to-use experience — no need for a cable subscription. Specifically curating content from digital content that will appeal to younger generations than standard cable.
- HBONow : OTT viewing experience – available to anyone who wants to run HBO on a mobile device.
- HBOGo: OTT Viewing experience – available to HBO’s premium cable subscribers.
- Xfinity TV Remote: If you don’t want to use the remote control and your tablet is more handy — there’s an app for that!
- Unstaged: American Express – 360 experiences
We believe that having access to a space like MEL helps CableLabs employees establish opinions on consumer technology that are based on facts as well as experience with the real products. These insights enable us to ground our insights and set the stage for innovation beyond what already is on market.
The next time you are in Sunnyvale, make some time to stop by and experience MEL. No appointment is necessary, but be forewarned…sudden attacks of binge-watching have been known to afflict visitors and you might just be inspired to create a product on your own!
Mickie Calkins is the Director of Co-Innovation & Prototyping in the Strategy & Innovation Group at CableLabs.