System Ships Preloaded With Ads, Supports Entertainment
HOLLYWOOD, CA -- 3D technology may very well play an important part in the digital services bundle offered by coin machine operators. In addition to 3D videogames, networked display systems delivering advertising and entertainment might offer new opportunities.
Hollywood, CA-based Elixir XES 3D is offering such a system, and has partnered with a Pennsylvania-based coin-op company to market it. Elixir hosted private demonstrations of its networked 3D display system for out-of-home advertising and entertainment during the recent Amusement Expo in Las Vegas.
Several key operators, distributors and manufacturers were invited to a hotel suite for a sneak peak at the company's technology. This preview launched an ambitious marketing rollout to the amusement industry, as well as other sectors, including casinos and hotels.
Elixir officials said they plan to set up a proprietary network of out-of-home 3D systems in high-traffic pedestrian locations, including sports arenas, airports, convenience stores, shopping malls and major commercial buildings.
The company said its 3D custom display products are available for a wide array of additional uses, from casino slot machines to applications for automotive DVD players, medical diagnostics displays and CAD systems. Ultimately, Elixir hopes to install 3D monitors in consumers' homes, according to operator Chris Vecchione of Power to the Games of Bensalem, PA.
Power to the Games, headed by Vecchione and former distributor Tony Yula, is administering Elixir's marketing campaign to the amusement industry and its nationwide operating partnership program. Vecchione explained that Power will operate the 3D units on its own routes across the northeastern United States. It also will work with selected operators nationwide who will act as "sub-distributors," he added.
According to Vecchione, industry members who saw the recent technology demonstrations in Las Vegas were highly enthusiastic about two unique features of the Elixir solution.
First, Elixir plans to provide its networked 3D technology to operators at no cost. Rather than paying for the expensive units up front, participating operators will enter into a revenue-sharing agreement based on advertising revenues from Elixir's clients.
Elixir has already recruited a substantial advertising client base, Vecchione reported. Each 3D unit comes preloaded with 3D advertisements from these clients, he added, and other major advertisers have expressed keen interest in the program.
3D WITHOUT GLASSES
The second unique feature that won industry approval in Las Vegas, Vecchione said, is the unit's 3D technology. Elixir provides glasses-free stereoscopic graphics through a technique called parallax barrier display.
Simply put, the technology uses two slightly different images, interlaced on one monitor. The viewer's left eye sees one set of image components, apparently viewing the action from one viewpoint while his right eye sees the second image matrix from another.
This dual-image projection is achieved with filter technology that directs the light of the two images' pixels at slightly different angles, depending on wavelength. The viewer's brain integrates the two images into a perceived three-dimensional scene. In effect, the technology mimics what occurs with regular eyesight in the real world: stereoscopic, or three-dimensional, vision.
The theory of parallel barrier technology is well known, and dates back to the early 1900s. Working examples of flat-screen 3D monitors using this technique have been available in commercial laboratories for more than a decade; however, prices have been out of reach for amusement industry applications.
What's new now is that Elixir said it has developed an innovative, yet relatively affordable, high-tech update of the concept -- particularly affordable when married to the company's aspiring series of business models.
According to Elixir officials, "The addition of our filter to a brand-name LCD screen provides a cost-effective hardware solution that displays 3D images with superior sharpness."
Each 3D unit is comprised of a high-definition monitor (various sizes are available from 23" to 46") combined with a built-in networked computer that has its own IP address.
As impressive as Elixir's 3D visuals are, the network platform behind the monitors on location is equally notable, if not more sophisticated.
Officials said Elixir's proprietary software suite provides an H.264-compatible bit rate for 3D; this high-definition codec provides sophisticated data compression that puts no greater demand on the Internet pipeline than conventional video. This means 3D images can be streamed smoothly to monitors on location without overburdening the network or causing the system to crash.
According to a statement on the company website, Elixir's complete solution combines off-the-shelf augmented hardware with proprietary software that "transforms" content. Presumably this refers to transforming a 2D display of "3D" computer graphics, as most videogames do now, into what appear to be true stereoscopic images like those seen in a 3D film such as "Avatar" -- without requiring the use of polarized glasses by the viewer.
Elixir said its package of H.264 bit rate, standard hardware and proprietary software is further integrated with licensed narrowcast networking software to create turnkey media solutions including production, compression, networking, playback, and interactive tools, as well as custom 3D display designs.
Elixir XES 3D monitors can display both 2D and 3D video signals, depending on the type of content being streamed through the network.
The company behind the product is Elixir XES 3D LLC. Officials describe its business as a 3D technology distribution firm. The company is the result of a partnership between Xtreme Electronics Systems Inc. and Elixir Entertainment Inc.
Managing partners of Elixir include XES Entertainment chairman Fernando Dalmau, a real estate developer. The company's second managing partner is Elixir Entertainment founder and chief executive John Kuri, a big-budget movie and TV producer, and theme park executive, who formerly worked at Walt Disney Productions.
Vecchione said that in addition to advertising, the Elixir system can support other digital services. Most of these use Elixir technology to present not just advertising, but also a variety of entertainment programming in 3D to out-of-home markets, with each type of programming generating a separate revenue stream.
Among them are subscription-based 3D Internet games and subscription-based cable TV offerings. The latter could include both ongoing subscription programming and one-time pay-per-view sportscasts, movies, concerts and live-event media, said Vecchione.
The vendor encouraged industry members to take a "sky's the limit" view of the Elixir program, pointing out that 3D appears to be the wave of the future for most digital visual media.
As an example of the type of creative applications of Elixir that are possible, Vecchione said that operators, locations, advertisers and programmers will be able to use the units on location to create and run -- in effect -- a proprietary webcast or cable network, providing content of the programmer's choice.
"Each monitor we deploy will have its own IP address, providing geo-specific control over time and play of any content," Vecchione concluded.