Students learning how to sync television, tablet computers, cellphones

Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Emerging Media

October 10, 2011

Ball State University students will test a new system that syncs televisions and mobile communication devices, thanks to a new partnership with a European technology firm.

Intrasonics, a Cambridge, United Kingdom-based company specializing in acoustic content recognition technologies, is making its Software Developer Kit (SDK) available to Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD) for testing and application development.

The software allows audio signals contained within a television broadcast — also known as audio watermarking — to be detected by "second screen" tablet computers or mobile phones, syncing the devices and enhancing viewer engagement.

"Applications on mobile devices are an important new form of interactive television, also called  iTV, so it's crucial Ball State students have an opportunity to master the development tools for such apps," said Michael Holmes, director of CMD's Insight and  Research unit.

Luc Jonker, CEO of Intrasonics, said Ball State was selected for the partnership due to the university's groundbreaking research in interactive television.

"Ball State's Center for Media Design is one of the leading institutions exploring the future of TV, so we're naturally delighted that its talented students will be getting hands on with our technology," Jonkers said. "Intrasonics provides unrivalled interactivity between brands and their audiences. The only limit into how the technology's used to create that interactivity is the creativity of the apps developers and the brands they work for. We're therefore genuinely excited to see how this new generation of students exploits this potential to shape the future of TV."

The first students at Ball State to use the kit are members of CMD's iTV design and development team, a group of students and faculty developing interactive news, entertainment and advertising for a variety of platforms. 

Team members are developing second screen apps for iPhones and iPads as well as other multimedia devices. Insight and Research is assisting with usability testing of television and mobile device interfaces created from this project, as part of its Viewing+ research exploring consumer attitudes and behaviors in iTV and other emerging media.

"Interactive TV is in its early growth stages in the U.S.," Holmes said. "We need to prepare media students for the iTV future now, and we need to provide meaningful research to the TV industry to help professionals understand the impact of iTV on the viewer experience.  Our Viewing+ initiative addresses both of these goals."

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