Exploring the living room of the future in Sarajevo?

Yesterday I posted about being very busy over the next month or so and I mentioned going to Sarajevo unlimited. Some of you might be scratching your head, thinking why?

Well it starts with a better question than simply “Sarajevo? why?

If its possible to adapt, customise or even personalised media to a person and their context (we know it is – if you not been paying attention, check out object media and some of the perceptive media work); how does this work with a few to many people experiencing at the same media?

No more shared experience?

This is a question I get a lot on the road. I clearly remember when I first presented Visual Perceptive Media at This way up (conference about the future of digital cinema) in 2015. Most felt I was breaking the shared moment and therefore breaking the very idea of cinema.

Is this the shared experience you are talking about?

I always like to joke a little and remind people the shared experience was/is broken. You only have to look at on-demand, the huge amount of channels, ways to consume content and the ever growing diversity of sources. Honest media makers know you can watch the exact same thing and take away different things, due to your experience, background, culture, etc. But the question of the share experience is a fair point, especially as we drift further into our filter bubbles?

A different shared experience

So the question is, knowing all this, is there a different shared experience which can be enabled with the technology and research we have now? Something which people will have a hard time explaining and ultimately throw up their hands saying “…you had to be there!

Internet of thing - Perceptive Radio

I obviously say yes! I point at physical connected things as a potential way to bring people together and create new types of connected/shared experiences. This is why the Perceptive Radio was a big deal and what it stood for back in 2013, a whole year to half a year before the Amazon Alexa by the way!

Even before seeing things like the Good night lamp and BBC R&D’s dalek prototype. It was clear enchanted objects have the potential to connect people with the media in a bi-directional manor (media affecting the objects and objects affecting the media). With that in mind and the concept of the tiny theatre buzzing around my head from Jasmine and Vicky; it became clear that our living rooms are so packed full of connected objects could be ground zero with its diverse groups of people and contexts.

The living room of the future?

Very cool but what has this to do with Sarajevo?

It was during my talk at Future Fest when I met Caroline from the British Council. We briefly talked about the plan which I had already had support from FACT in Liverpool and the Nottingham Databox team. Then early  in 2017, we spent much more time talking through the project and its fruitful aims for research and user experience design; especially with the synergy of Object media and Databox which was demonstrated as homelab kitchen at Mozfest 2016.

Mozfest 2016

The British Council loved it and suggested a collaboration with their Western Balkans office as they have been monitoring some great creativity in the area. What better way to inject some much needed creativity into, on the face of it quite a technical project? Its pretty easy to forget its about the experience not the technology.

From my personal point of view, its great to have a more diversity outside the usual places. From my short time spent in Romanian and Estonia with Mozilla, I’m convinced this will be a collaboration with surprises and breathtaking results. Ultimately together we will explore what the living room of the future could be, when the media and connected objects (IOT) in the room talk to each other seamlessly but in data ethical way.

There is a blog post drafted for the BBC R&D blog with more details, but as the British Council have already started the process by advertising for 20 creatives to join our special workshop at Sarajevo unlimited. I thought I’d add some background to this incredible project… I’m very much looking forward to updating everyone as the project moves forward.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.