Ultimate Media

Visual Media is going through fundamental changes. It has irretrievability lost its lock on the audience but has gained unprecedented opportunity to evolve the platform by which it is communicated. Evolving apps are as important as ever-changing con- tent, and the social context in which those apps are used is deeply different from the couch-potato model of the past. The silos that segregated media industries and formats is likewise dissolving: people today tune in to ideas more than channels, and they move as fluidly between text, audio, and video as their grandparents clicked a channel chang- er. To today's youth, the Six o'clock news happens anytime and emanates from friends as much as from studios. Media is now a forum for expression instead of a vehicle for idle consumption. It can change your mind, and it is changing the world. It is now some- thing we own rather than something we use.

Ultimate Media is creating a platform for the invention, creation, and realization of new ways to explore and participate in the media universe. We apply extremes of access, processing, and interaction to build new media experiences that are data driven, socially designed, and inherently participatory. We consider narrative entertainment as well as synchronous events exemplified by news and sports. We build exploratory systems that are based on a publication paradigm rather periodic broadcasts: content is released at a specific time and available anytime thereafter, at home and on the move. We base live participation on frame-by-frame metadata obtained in realtime and assembled by view- ers into new perspectives and new content. We also build ways for media to directly interact with the spaces and objects around us.

The context of this research is an environment characterized by new understanding of data, people, sensing, and places. All of these are topics of concurrent research at the Media Lab, and together they technologically underpin the what, who, how and where of Ultimate Media. At present the program is supported by Comcast/NBCU, DirecTV, and Cisco at a level of $500K/yr. We anticipate it to grow to $800K/year in FY 2014. Seven graduate students and two lab PI's (in part) participate. The following brief project de- scriptions outline the scope and current concentration.