A Game-Changer for Television? Sesame Street Will Be First Interactive Show

Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:02pm EST

People keep asking me what exciting new products I’m finding at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

There’s a lot of stuff that’s impressive: tablets remain pretty big, and there are new improvements on mobile that make stuff quicker, lighter and snazzier.

But nothing I’ve seen here changes the paradigm – except this one.

The Kinect technology that was on display at Microsoft’s opening presentation on Monday night, introducing the first truly interactive television show, can be a game-changer for the content industry.

Microsoft has paired with the classic children’s show, Sesame Street, to create what they called the first “two-way” television experience.

It worked like this: a child watches the show, and is prompted by characters like Grover, Elmo and Cookie Monster to take an action.

In the demo (see video) a little girl threw coconuts into a box.  Grover caught them, and counted each one.

Then, little Ainsley was actually able to jump into the scene and prance around.

This strikes me as an entirely new way of experiencing television – personal, interactive and engaging. Sesame Street is the perfect place to start – young children like to talk to the television, and won’t find anything odd about being inside the screen, I suspect.

And while this may not be the most sophisticated use of the technology, the technology itself shows a stunning sophistication in breaking the fourth wall of the viewing experience.

Kinect’s interactive games that – like the Wii -  got gamers off the couch and taking an active role in video games, has become one of Microsoft’s most successful products for its blockbuster gaming device, Xbox.

The technology behind it, with a camera registering the movements of the viewer, is being pushed a step further,  

To content producers I would say: check it out. This could be an exciting new storytelling tool.

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