The Companion Web: Why We Want to Use Our Phone to Control Our Tablet
Every time a baby is born, five new mobile devices are activated and an angel gets its wings.
The devices don’t belong to the baby. . . it’s just a way of showing you how crazy this whole mobile device movement has become.
The web developers of the world are doing their best to create sites and apps and tools that take advantage of each device’s best features but when it comes to connecting one to the other, we’re slacking. That’s why Microsoft is championing “The Companion Web.” It’s all about using one device to raise the entertainment or educational value of whatever you’re doing on another device.
Second screen TV apps like Viggle are already doing this to some extent, but Microsoft wants to take it a step further.
This is a mock-up of a test program by Polar. When you sit down to watch TV on TV or a tablet, you use a QR code to sync up your smartphone. (Viggle uses audio detect.) Then, throughout the show, you can interact using your phone and see the the results pop up in a sidebar.
You can take polls, answer trivia, chat with other viewers. Ask questions like, “who is that actor who was just chainsawed his way out of a shark?” It’s a TV lovers dream. Best of all, it puts the content right next to what you’re watching so you don’t spend the entire TV show looking down at your phone.
The Companion Web concept can be used for other things, too. The Daily Burn connects your Xbox and a tablet to produce personalize, real-time fitness stats while you workout. MixParty lets your guests use their mobile phones to vote on which song Xbox plays next.
Scroll on your tablet and the sidebar on your TV scrolls. Tap to choose a show on your phone and it plays instantly on your TV. It’s like using your mobile device as a remote control but to the 10th power.
Of course, once you’re running a sidebar and companion content, there’s room for advertisements. Or maybe it’s just sponsored content. Netflix could sponsor the trivia game that runs next to the Emmy award broadcast. RedBull can sponsor a series of polls during the X-Games. We’re already doing this – we just need to make the connection a little more cohesive from this device to that.
I’m excited by the possibilities. Here’s a fun little video from Polar that explains everything I just said, but with pictures.