Over three years ago we started down a path to explore the future of the video web. The beginning of this journey was a hardware project. It involved physics, optics, electrical engineering, industrial design, wood, metal and glass. We set out to build the first camera connected to the internet, and we called it TouchCast. It was to become the first (and only, as far as we know) transparent touchscreen built for broadcast television. This hardware rig allows the talent to manipulate objects sitting between them and the camera in the way we are accustomed to seeing in science fiction movies like Minority Report and Avatar.
We refused to accept the fact that these screens did not already exist in the world and that achieving such effects require weeks of post production work. We wanted it now, in real-time… just like in the movies. We got there and in the process some unexpected things happened. Software happened. In fact, we took that software running on an 8-core monster PC inside a 6-foot tall broadcast TV rig and shrunk it down to fit on an iPad—which is our first product we are launching today.
The iPad version itself is nearly two years in the making. We started back with a 2nd generation iPad that could hardly handle our real-time video compositing engine. We were lucky it took us so long to develop because by the time the 4th generation iPad was available we realized we were creating the most powerful, mobile video authoring tool on the planet. One that is not just a complete HD video broadcast truck on an iPad… but more importantly one that can bring video and the web together like never before. TouchCast is a new medium that looks like TV, but feels like the web.
Introducing the video web.
We began to grasp that this new medium is not just a broadcast medium but a new mode of interaction—an interaction in which viewers expect to be able to manipulate the same elements that the talent manipulates onscreen. TouchCast literally makes possible an information handoff between creators and viewers through the screen.
As we explored the implications of this new medium further, we realized that it could not only change how we view video, but how we view the web. It dawned upon us that the future of the web could look and feel as fluid as sci-fi TV, rather than the same old “magazine metaphor” websites of today. The web is about to graduate from a massive, stagnant magazine to a vibrant, engaging, conversational, and more video-like medium: the video web.
The dichotomy between video and the web.
The two most potent media forms in contemporary history now live side-by-side: the web with its Hyper Text Markup Language and video, which is usually relegated to operate within a walled garden on the web in a 16:9 or 4:3 rectangle, all nicely placed inside this “page” metaphor borrowed from the days of magazines. The foundations of the web are in print. HTML is based on a markup language that was designed for desktop publishing and print mediums. But the dominance of the magazine metaphor on the World Wide Web is coming to a close.
We are on the cusp of a new age where the canvas of the web is video–more specifically, HD video powered by the open standard of HTML5. The creators of today will lead the transition of the web from pages to channels. HD video can now encapsulate interactive elements that consumers are already used to exploring on the web. Video and the web will merge together into one super-medium. This new video web will allow users to “zap” between different worlds of content, where the value between curation and creation will blur even more.
The web changed forever how videos are distributed, but so far it hasn’t done much to change the way videos are actually created or consumed. The video web brings the immersion of the web into the video experience.
We are taking a small step towards making the video web a reality today with the launch of TouchCast for iPad. At Touchcast, we have been working in stealth for the last three years to bring you what we believe are the most powerful authoring tools to hit the digital stage.
TouchCast for iPad gives the power of a broadcast television production studio to everyone with an iPad.
But more importantly: TouchCast allows anyone—from the blogger expressing herself through video for the first time or the YouTuber with a million views to the print journalist or the broadcast TV correspondent—to not only create stunning multi-layered video but to create and watch videos that are hyper-interactive.
TouchCast is a new kind of video that is part of the web, not apart from it. Each TouchCast can contain web pages, documents, videos, pictures and interactive regions we call video Apps (vApps) within it, bringing the world of video and the web together. Video Apps are active HTML objects inside the video. They include maps, polls, Twitter streams, clickable news headlines, photo galleries, and anything else developers can imagine (vApps are built on an open platform).
Creators are now equipped to produce a new, amazing breed of video web content with minimal time and effort. These creators will redefine the language of how we broadcast and consume video content. Touchcast for iPad allows this magic to happen in real-time with no post-production necessary. And best of all it is completely free.
So head over to the app store and come join the revolution. We have great things in store for TouchCast. This is just the first version. Our roadmap for future releases is bursting with additional features and support for more platforms—TouchCast is coming soon to PC and Mac desktops and the original TouchCast hardware for professional broadcasters is nearing its ship date. We are determined to establish TouchCast as a foundational technology for the future of the web and you can help us steer the course. Come start your TouchCast channel to share your story and your knowledge with the world in a way never before possible.
We are at the dawn of a new medium. Help us define it.
Edo and the entire rapidly growing Touchcast team:
Charley, Erick, John, Dima, Abhi, Daniel, Marius, Mark,
Michael H, Aaron, Alexandra, Alexey K, Alexey Z, Amanda,
Andrew M, Andrew S, Anson, Artem, Arun, Chris, Danie,
Dave, David, Hanif, Igor, Ivan, Jack, Jasmin, Jeff, Josh,
Julia, Kiran, Manoj, Mark P, Mark V, Michael M, Olga,
Saju, Sreekanth, Thomas, Anu, Anoop & Vinod