Screens Everywhere and Intelligence in the Network: Nokia’s TV Vision 2025

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Minority Report, Steven Spielberg's prescient 2002 "fiction" is a step closer to reality. No, not pre-cognitive policing (although warnings from Elon Musk about taking the predictive capacity of artificial intelligence at face value should be heeded), but the concept of screens everywhere and fluently interactive with gesture, voice, and eye movement.

This is Nokia's vision too and the company believes this sort of thing will happen in less than a decade. In its latest research, Nokia outlines a near-future in which any surface is a potential screen.

"Today, we are all anchored to a piece of glass but we think the evolution of short-throw projection and OLED technology will mean screens start to be available on any flat surface," says Paul Larbey, head of Nokia's IP Video business. "That could be on a bathroom mirror, a table, a kitchen worktop, the screen of your car."

The killer combination of 5G and fibre to the home will help drive this change.

"With the ubiquity of screens, the way we interface with content changes too," he added. "We think it moves beyond the remote control to gesture control and eye movement. The UI will adjust accordingly."

In turn, this means the screens themselves (or the set-top box) need to become dumber with the intelligence moved to a portable device—"perhaps something we carry around like a mobile phone"—as well as going back into the network.

This is part of the Finnish tech pioneer's vision of what the consumer's TV experience will be like in 2025. It comprises research both within Nokia and from talking with the market.

"We think the industry has been reacting to change and not getting ahead of the curve," said Larbey. "We think the industry should be bold enough to have a vision out there so we can all march toward it."

With screen technology moving so fast, Nokia is urging service providers to strategize now for a re-orientation of their infrastructure that decentralises processing and intelligence to the network's edge. In this the company's vision is not dissimilar from the likes of Ericsson or Edgeware.

An extension of Nokia's thinking is the gradual exchange of the channel with that of brand as the primary means consumers will navigate content on ubiquitous screens.

Nokia thinks curation will incorporate social media to the extent that content served to the consumer will be filtered and tuned by events going on around an individual. This information will be derived from personal sensors and social media feeds.

"If screens are everywhere there must be some mechanism for content to respond to the user's mood, their whereabouts and activity," says Larbey.

The third broad stroke of its "Any Vision 2025" is a move away from content provision by a multiplicity of apps—which in Nokia's view is only creating greater complexity for the viewer—and toward a supra-aggregation of content. This may not be corralled under a single brand (like Amazon or Google) but, in Nokia's view, should be about the collection of content and personalized data in the network to intelligently determine what the user may want at any particular time. It thinks that only an open platform truly capable of incorporating any data input is the only one that should matter to operators.

Larbey says Nokia isn't building this, but you get the sense that this is the direction it would like to move in.

"We think only the way to make sense of the complexity of content involves moving the functions that control the delivery and curation of content from the home and proprietary devices into the cloud," says Larbey. "Ultimately, this will enable consumers to access content in a highly personalized and customizable environment, unconstrained by linear programming and walled garden accounts. Caching the viewing experiences in the cloud also allows screening continuity on any subsequent device in any location, and sharing with the viewer's social circles."

Nokia is using this vision to promote a new Virtualized User Experience platform (UXP), part of its wider Velocix range of IP Video solutions.

"The UXP enables operators to create a highly personalized UI in the cloud without impacting the user device," explains Larbey. "It allows operators to create the user experience within the cloud, and deliver the content their customers care about—live, on-demand or time shifted—and render that content on any screen."

The UXP is based on standard internet technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS templates and will be in trials with number of operators by end of year.

"The aspects of a content service that control delivery, personalization and self-curation are rapidly being virtualized, moving from the home and proprietary devices into the cloud," he adds. "The Velocix UXP gives television service operators the ability to virtualize the user experience as the STB fades and is replaced by the cloud and ‘BYO' consumer devices."

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