The Emergence of Convergence: Your TV, Computer, Phone Are Melding


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First off, just what is convergence?

The word originally came from the world of math and science. Its earliest use was by a man named William Derham, who was working at trying to measure the speed of sound by timing the flash and the roar of a cannon. That was in the 1600’s-1700’s.

The term has been used in technology, business, science and journalism - everything from explaining corporate strategy to Darwin’s “The Origin of Species" (still a “hot” topic today, what?).

What we want to approach today is convergence in the digital media. Convergence refers to the power of digital media to combine voice, video, data, text, and money in new applications, devices and networks.

Television is probably the most amazing invention of mankind. Sending pictures and sound through the air has a magical quality that challenges the imagination.

Next in line is the computer. This cool electronics - that takes ones and zeros and turns them into words, pictures, sounds, data - and places them in the palm of your hand is nothing less than amazing in itself.

You can’t leave out the telephone - which has passed from being connected by wires to wireless voice, then audio and sounds, then video, then internet, then . . . .

Convergence. Convergence is taking all of these media and combining them into one delivery system. Major companies are gearing up for entering into this new development.

Here are some things coming up through this cool electronics melding:

  • AOL is putting old TV shows on the Internet

  • CBS and NBC are offering current TV shows online - and ABC, Apple and Disney are putting shows on the new Video iPod

  • Google is into offering video - Chris Rock’s new show premieres online before it is aired over regular network channels

  • MTV has bought the independent film network iFilm and launches a 24/7 Internet TV Network [MTV Uber]

    What does all this mean to you?

    With the proper cool electronics coming available, you can expect that within . . . say five years . . . your TV watching will expand beyond network - cable - satellite, and the private video networks of companies like TiVo and RePlay - to what one person has called “ubiquitous content. ” In other words, any show or video you can think of will be delivered to you over the Internet. Think 1000 channels?!

    And this Internet TV will be delivered to your home TV set (HDTV big screen) and more. There will be gadgets and devices that hook up your TV set directly to the Internet to deliver video directly to your set instead of your computer.

    Anyone with a camera will be able to upload video to the net. You will see the good, the bad and the ugly for awhile - but the cream will rise as they always say - and levels of video will form into communities of like style, ability and value - all through the new cool electronics that are becoming available now.

    Sponsored videos will become more plentiful. One advertiser will supply and sponsor programs - like the Hallmark Hall of Fame has done since the early days of broadcasting.

    Niche programs will become an important marketing tool for small companies - like cooking shows sponsored by a local/regional grocery store - or health shows backed by health food products. Do I hear “infomercial?” They may become the norm. We can only hope that the creative people in our society will also be challenged and bring us some real product that we can learn from and enjoy.

    There will be improved search capabilities. you will be able to search video content as well as titles. This will be done by transcribing dialogue into text and stored in a database. Videos will be searched and rated just like websites are now.

    Set-top boxes [like the new Brightbox] will connect you from living room to living room by video phone and video email. Now you will have to dress up to answer your email (at least cover up).

    A user interface will become the most important feature of your TV because there will be SO MUCH CONTENT. The interface will make suggestions based on your mood, your astrological sign or what other people have chosen. This is already happening in Japan.

    Video communities will form to find and present content to fit various fields, moods, interests, and levels to suit your needs.

    Your home TV (DVR, DVD, Tivo, etc. ) can be watched on your computer anywhere in the world with a broadband connection and the cool electronics in devices like the Slingbox - which is available now.

    How about interactive shopping and education? You watch a program and pause the program to respond to a commercial while you think about it. Or - you are watching King Kong - you will be able to click on the “King” and get a lesson about apes and their history.

    TV’s are being built now (in Japan) with ethernet connections. this will speed up the connection convergence.

    Of course, the commercial value of TV will not disappear. Unfortunately, it may get more imbedded in the programming. Shopping will be made easier - with the ability to see products in real time and real size- or at least closer to real size - and right from your home set in your living room, kitchen or bedroom. Point and click and buy with the new cool electronics.

    I’m sure there will be many more surprises as this new industry develops. The emergence of convergence - Internet/TV/Communications - is expected to be the biggest new industry since the telephone - then TV - then the computer - then the Internet - then . . . who knows?

    © 2006 Gary Cogley

    Gary Cogley writes about all kinds of gadgets, gizmos and inventions. Get additional information at his website:

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