Interactive Media: Where is it now? Where is it headed?

We live in an ever-changing world of technology.  One aspect of these changes in technology is the constant push to make media more interactive.  Content creators have experimented with this interactive movement in interactive films, television shows, music videos, and advertisements.

Linkin Park

The alternative rock group Linkin Park released an interactive music video for their single “Lost in the Echo” in June of 2012.  Viewers of the video would sign in with their Facebook credentials and some of their photos would show up in various parts of the video.  It was an interesting idea, but I found it funny instead of moving because of the choice of photos.

Another band that has experimented with an interactive concept is Arcade Fire with their “The Wilderness Downtown” short film accompanied by their single “We Used to Wait.”  Viewers are asked to type in the address of the house they grew up in.  From there, the short film pulls up various “pop-up” windows with produced footage, mixed with Google maps generated graphics (including street view photos) that slowly make their way to that exact address. It is an interesting use of interactive media, but it comes across as a little creepy, but you can decide for yourself at

Skittles candy has explored the interactive world with advertising for their Touch Campaign.  These advertisements encourage the viewer to place their finger on an on-screen Skittle.  From there, the viewer has an interaction with what is happening on-screen related to them holding their finger on the image.  Soon after the success of these commercials, Skittles started another contest where independent producers could send in their own “Skittles Touch Ads.”  This made the campaign even more interactive.  Is this a trend that we will continue to see evolve in the future?

Breaking Bad SyncTelevision shows like Breaking Bad on AMC and Dexter on Showtime have drawn viewers into the “complete experience” with the introduction of a second screen on another device.  Apps that sync with the live television premieres of shows receive viewer feedback instantly after plot points are displayed.  The app pulls up questions for the viewers as well as trivia and polls.  I was curious during an episode of the final season of Breaking Bad, so I decided to give it the old college try.  My verdict was that it seemed a little odd, but it definitely pulled me into the story more than I previously was.  The app pulls up different and significant plot points from past seasons connected to what was happening in the current episode.  I definitely would have missed some of the significance of certain things that were happening had it not been for Breaking Bad’s Story Sync.

Last CallA German film titled “Last Call” takes this concept of a 2nd Screen experience one step further.  As the first interactive horror film in the world, the movie is essentially controlled by a viewer who communicates with the protagonist through a phone call.  Moviegoers are given flyers as they enter the theater encouraging them to text their number to a service center.  Software that was developed for the film randomly selects a member of the audience and calls them.  That one moviegoer is then in control of the characters’ fate via voice commands.  Do you think there will be many interactive horror films that take advantage of this technology?

Another film that has taken steps into the interactive world is “App”, a Dutch film released last April.  The film follows a 21-year-old girl who is addicted to using her smartphone.  Moviegoers download an app that is used to sync with the story line in a number of ways.  Rather than a phone call like in “Last Call”, this app displays video on the audience member’s smartphones.  “There could be two people in a room with a bomb ticking, only they don’t know about it…on the second screen, the audience would know how much time is remaining.”  An interesting concept, but do you think it will it catch on?

Alright, what’s next?  These are some examples of how interactive media is being used now. It is even more interesting idea is to think where interactive media may be headed in the near future.  Is it possible to accurately predict where the interactive industry is headed?  No doubt, interactive media is going to grow in coming years, especially as more and more people are used to the interactivity of smartphones.  This is of course just my speculation based on what kinds of interactive media we have at this moment, but I would like to hear what you think…

Do you want to live in a world of more interactive media? In what ways do you think interactive media is going to change in coming years?

– Rob Bauer

4 thoughts on “Interactive Media: Where is it now? Where is it headed?

  1. I remember you actually showing me the Linkin Park video and, while it was a good concept, the execution was terrible. Like you said, the happy Facebook photos didn’t make sense with the sad video. I think that if interactive media is to truly take off, it needs to be developed more to actually make sense and work well. Another thing that interactive mediums need to do is not be too intrusive. The example you gave of “The Wilderness Downtown” seemed way too creepy for me to be interested in it. I think people enjoy things that are interactive with their lives, but not to the extent where the software can find the person’s house…
    I’d never seen those Skittles advertisements before, and I definitely see the appeal of them. It was hilarious, and I like how the Skittle said “Put it Back” when you took your finger off of it.
    I don’t think it’s really possible to predict where interactive media is headed except for the fact that it’s obviously going somewhere and becoming very popular. Interactive media is intriguing and actually fun sometimes. I think the challenge will be toeing the fine line between annoying, invasive, and creepy, and easy, clever, and enjoyable.

  2. First of all, you should check out Take This Lollipop. Second, I’m unsure of how I really feel about the concept of interactive media. I am a huge fan of Breaking Bad and was aware of their story-sync feature, yet I never really felt compelled to use it because the storyline and plot was intriguing enough for me to not want to be distracted by another screen. This post also made me think about an app you can download for your smartphone that is connected with Grand Theft Auto V that allows you to do things like train your virtual dog to do tricks. I’m sorry but honestly, who give a shit what your dog can do it a video game? That’s just an example of where I think interactive media is doing a little too much in my mind, yet I do see a spot for this type of media in the future. I predict that advertising companies will really cash in on the idea of connecting with potential customers by directly interacting with them to market their product.

  3. I really think that interactive media is up and coming, but at a very slow rate. I remember reading an article about the Kinect for X-Box becoming more interactive. The game player does not have to say “X-Box” in order for the console to register the command. Here is the creepy part though, the camera on the Kinect stays active even when the game is turned off, so with that being said is it still providing an image to the server? Technology is moving at such an astounding rate that it’s becoming more and more freaky with what inanimate objects are able to do. The idea of the server calling a random person in the theater is kinda weird, but since it’s a horror film I feel that it takes the audience to another way of experiencing the movie.

  4. Personally, right now I think interactive media is a little gimmicky. Like a “hey, there’s this music video that shows your house in it!” or “it shows your pictures from Facebook!” It seems like a way to get people to watch instead of actually adding to the piece. As for the Breaking Bad example, I’d rather not be distracted by my phone/tablet/computer while enjoying a show. In the case of the films, that’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know if I want some random audience member deciding my movie experience for me. Also, how would it translate into home media having that same type of experience?

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