Fox Innovation Labs’ Danny Kaye Ponders An Augmented Future At CES

John Locher/AP

Fox Innovation Labs guru Danny Kaye has been peering into the future of home entertainment since long before “high definition TV” was a living room fixture and virtual reality existed as a setting in the science fiction film Tron, not a product sold at the local Best Buy.

As Kaye attends his 17th Consumer Electronics Show, he finds himself contemplating the next technological innovations to transform home entertainment. Increasingly, he’s focused on augmented and mixed reality — which he describes as “potentially explosive.”

The Fox Innovation Lab, now in its fourth year, collaborates with leading technology companies (Samsung, Ericsson and others) to create, test and incubate video-related technology and consumer experiences across all digital platforms. It showcased the High Dynamic Range (HDR) +10 platform, which optimizes the movie viewing experience on 4K TVs, this year at CES.

Fox has been working with technology partners like Microsoft to imagine entertainment applications for augmented and mixed reality, which overlay digital images or information on the real world. It’s a natural extension of what Fox Sports does now, when it digitally projects the yellow first down line that television viewers see during NFL broadcasts.

Kaye, who guided the studio’s strategy through a variety of home-entertainment formats — from Blu-ray to digital HD and Ultra HD —  sees opportunities in 360 degree experiences. A golf aficionado, he imagines how viewers might have enjoyed  surveying the surroundings of the Royal Birkdale course as Jordan Spieth pondered his difficult third shot (over the Titleist equipment truck) on the 13th hole of the British Open.

“He stuck the shot after a half hour,” said Kaye. “You’re looking at the TV, on your (mobile) device you could get a 360 view of that, playing along side him.”

Arenas equipped with speedy, next-generation 5G mobile networks could deliver enhanced content to mobile devices even as fans watch from the stands. Kaye imagines NASCAR fans taking out their smartphones to catch a watch the race from a favorite driver’s perspective, get an up-close view of pitstops.

“I can’t see that from the stands, but I can see it on this,” said Kaye, holding up the phone.

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