'Magic Wall' gives more interaction with TV newscasts

Millions of people tune in to TV news coverage each day, but they're likely to change the channel when bombarded with complicated information.

Millions of people tune in to TV news coverage each day, but they're likely to change the channel when bombarded with complicated information.

CNN's "Magic Wall" - a large monitor used to display and manipulate data and graphics with the tap or push of the newscaster's hand - is one tool that makes detailed information easier for the quickly distracted viewer to understand.

Andrew Foote, VP of GCI Group's digital media practice, explains that media outlets have moved beyond storytelling and reporting and are now utilizing technology to create visual experiences. The "Magic Wall" changes the news-consumption experience by allowing viewers to feel like they are interacting with the information as they see it manipulated on-screen, he says.

"It all comes down to a rich story, and the tools at your disposal take the story to a new level," he adds.

Creator Jeffrey Han's company, Perceptive Pixel, is marketing the tool, which it calls the Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall, to various news organizations and intelligence agencies.

Microsoft launched a similar technology called Surface in May 2007, which allows users to move their hands to control information on its screen.

Kyle Warnick, Microsoft Surface group marketing manager, says there are opportunities for more media outlets to use this technology, which will also target the consumer retail, leisure, and entertainment markets.

"You can imagine future scenarios when a newsroom could use this for page layout, or a broadcast station could use this to share content with viewers in a unique way," he says via e-mail.

Growing interest in touch-screen technologies will result in PR pros altering pitches with this platform in mind, as well as considering applications that work well with a controllable display, Foote says.

"The more you give people the ability to interact with their media, the more they will stick with it and consume it," he explains.

Key points:
The "Collaboration Wall" is a benefit to news viewers because it responds to simultaneous touches

CNN's "Magic Wall" helps newscasters display information in a way that's easier for consumers to grasp

Comms pros can anticipate the growth of this technology, incorporating the creation of new applications that work well with multi-touch platforms

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