Create an immersive home entertainment experience

The BBC has helped shape the way we consume media over the last century, but what will the years to come bring? We’ve picked out some technologies that could transform your home entertainment experience.

A cozy night in

Our first choice for creating a more immersive entertainment experience at home is pretty obvious, but sometimes the simplest technologies are the most effective. So, to enhance those cozy nights, why not try to find a TV with 8K picture quality, maybe on a larger scale…

Of course, there are many TVs in the market for people to choose from, but one with an 8K picture quality will give you the best experience. “If you want to experience the highest quality displays, then 8K is the way to go,” says consumer tech company Reliant. “8K displays offer the highest level of accuracy, so you don’t miss any details in anything you’re watching. So if you want the cinematic movie night experience, an 8K screen offers the most accurate picture and immersive experience.”

8k Smart TV

Photo credit: Samsung

Reliant offers TVs that use technologies like QNED, NanoCell, QLED, NEO QLED and LG Signature displays that deliver ultra-fine and super sharp focused lights and extreme blacks. “They offer a range of colors and shades to give you true-to-life color to immerse you in your shows, movies and sports,” it adds.

The company’s TVs feature powerful processors to upscale images to their maximum resolution, allowing viewers to enjoy finer detail in everything they watch. “Anti-reflective technology improves viewing angles, allowing TV to be enjoyed from multiple areas of the room. With OLED displays, there are self-illuminating pixels that produce richer colors and sharper images.”

Reliant televisions are also “surround sound ready”, allowing you to “enhance your audio experience with multi-directional sound”. Though many TVs already come with competent speakers and sound-tracking capabilities, Reliant says a surround-sound setup is the way to “level up.”

Again, it’s an obvious choice, but getting an 8K TV is a great way to set up the ultimate home entertainment system. That being said, we’d say it’s best to go for a 75-inch TV (or larger) to really make it worth it. The smaller, and it can take away that immersive experience.

A sound prism

To complement the images on your TV in 8K quality, while watching a horror movie in your living room, for example, sound is crucial – after all, the sounds make horrors even scarier. But to truly immerse yourself in the experience, surround sound — or 3D audio — is your best bet. And that’s where technology like Dolby Atmos comes in.

Now that Atmos has been around for a decade and made its debut with the release of Pixar’s film Brave in 2012, the technology has ushered in a new era of 3D sound and is fast becoming one of the most significant and impactful technologies in the home -Entertainment.

The defining feature of the technology is the configuration of audio objects – sounds are no longer confined to their respective channels, whether in vertical or horizontal movement. Think of each sound as a floating sphere in space: it can “levitate” on any plane. Such treble channels create a more immersive sound.

To get a better sound experience for your home theater or for playing music, a multiple speaker setup may be best. But even soundbars with Atmos, like AO’s Sonos Beam, offer a much “bigger” and more enveloping soundstage than stereo bars.

According to AO, Sonos Beam can “enrich your entertainment experience” and allow its users to “enjoy panoramic sound,” whether for watching shows or movies, or playing video games.

This tech is certainly a purchase that would give you what AO describes as “all-round exceptional sound”, but fair warning you’d need a TV that supports Dolby Atmos and Atmos-encoded content.

Let there be light!

If you’re looking to boost visuals beyond your already 8K TV, a TV backlight might do the trick.

By illuminating the wall behind your TV, experts say you can dramatically improve your TV’s color and contrast, black levels, and power consumption while reducing eye strain (blame streaming services for their binge-watching models !).

LED products like those from award-winning lighting company Govee can mimic the prevailing colors of the content displayed on the screen.

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Govee says its Envisual camera color matching technology, which uses internally developed algorithms, intelligently “recognizes and captures” the colors on your TV screen and automatically applies them to your backlight.

Govee’s DreamView product features a segmented color control feature that allows users to personalize each segment on an individual light bar for a more vivid viewing experience. It does this through its RGBIC lighting display technology – powered by an advanced IC (Independent Control) chip – which allows multiple colors to be seen simultaneously on a strip of light.

Happaning allows users to “create, share and consume immersive stories” from multiple angles using ViiVid (Vantage Video) technology.

At the tip of your fingers

From endlessly scrolling through TikTok to watching silly cat videos on Facebook, there’s no doubt that the videos we watch on our smartphones now make up a large part of the way we consume content and entertain ourselves. But what if we told you that there are technologies that could improve your video experience, especially for live events?

Well there is. In fact, a start-up called Happaning is proposing a drastic next step in the video industry by launching a new media format of multi-vantage videos that the London-based company has aptly dubbed ViiVids.

Happing Tech Crunch

Happaning allows users to “create, share and consume immersive stories”.

Photo credit: Happaning

But how does it work? When users record video, ViiVid data streams (including audiovisual output, time signatures, location/position information, metadata, etc.) are generated and transmitted over a peer-to-peer, decentralized mesh network of mobile and static recording devices. Each device then synchronizes and logs the relevant data within the network.

It simultaneously encompasses direct (e.g., Bluetooth), local (e.g., Wi-Fi), and cellular networks, allowing co-located individuals (including those without cellular data) or distant viewers in a given direction between vantage points within the Recording network can pan back and forth in a space-time synchronized manner, the company says. Unobtrusive augmented reality (AR) markers then show the relative position and position (distance, elevation and/or direction) of other available vantage points within the current field of view, while peripheral markers show those outside the frame.

Once the recording is complete, the media artifacts (coupled with checksums and a timeline of relevant synchronization data) are sent to server-side post-processing to confirm, merge and prepare the prospects for on-demand retrospective ViiVid playback.

“So, whether you’re at the event or in the comfort of your own home, the ViiVid player lets you seamlessly switch between the different videos in a ViiVid by swiping in the direction you want and moving as if you were there,” he says Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Ese Eniwumide.

The first use cases for the technology are to record real-world events such as weddings, concerts, sporting events, protests or marches, or others where a larger crowd would attend. After recording in Happaning, you can swipe from one video to the next to see the same event from different angles and perspectives by tapping on markers in the video.

Think of it like Google Street View, but with video.

Smell the wine

Imagine a world where it’s possible to heighten your other senses while playing…

Well, researchers from Stockholm University and Malmö University in Sweden have developed a smell engine, called an olfactometer, that allows gamers to smell in VR environments. And together with the scent machine, they created a “wine tasting game”.

In the game, the participant moves in a virtual wine cellar, picking up glasses with different wines and guessing the aromas. The small scent machine is connected to the controller of the VR system and when the player lifts the glass, it releases a scent.

VR smell system

Photo credit: University of Stockholm

Jonas Olofsson, professor of psychology and leader of the research project at Stockholm University, hopes that the new technical possibilities will lead to scents playing a more important role in game development.

“The possibility of moving from a passive to a more active sense of smell in the game world paves the way for the development of completely new smell-based game mechanics based on the movements and judgments of the players,” adds Simon Niedenthal, Interaction and Games Researcher at Malmö University.

The olfactometer consists of four valves, each connected to a duct from which a fan draws air into a central tube. With the help of the computer, the player can control the four channels so that they open to different degrees and emit different fragrance mixtures.

So far, VR has only brought us more immersive games from a visual point of view. This could certainly take the experience to a higher level – although you don’t want to be playing a farming game.

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