For some time now, events with large audiences such as sports games, award shows, presentations and gameshows have sought out creative means of engaging their audiences more directly. Special giveaways, ask-the-audience lifelines, applause-o-meters designed to help contestants better make decisions have all been attempts to draw the viewership into the action on-stage and keep their attention throughout the duration of a long event.
Despite these creative forays into audience feedback, few such attempts have overcome the basic technical obstacle to allowing a large volume of people to participate simultaneously; the technical difficulty of taking in and processing the tremendous influx of data that large audiences can generate.
If you consider the 2012 superbowl, for example, which at the time drew one of the largest concurrent audiences in the history of television at roughly 111 million, you can begin to see the extreme strain that would be placed on any system attempting to power a live audience feedback mechanism.
If only 10% of such a large audience were to engage a companion app or mobile website during the course of the game, the audience feedback platform would need to handle 11,100,000 concurrent requests, and do this on an ongoing or streaming basis, should the companion experience allow for continuous interaction.
Live audience polling platforms that can handle this level of input have tremendous potential to create unprecedented experiences. You could have a superbowl companion app that would allow everyone sitting in the stadium and everyone watching from home to challenge one another in real-time play prediction game. Incorporation real-time audience responses into gameshows could breathe new life into a wide variety of programs.
American Idol and similar shows could publish real-time voting applications that allowed the entire audience of millions of viewers to register their support for, or dislike of, a given singer in real-time, while the system aggregated the total audience sentiment and displayed it onscreen for everyone to see.
Multiplayer games and mobile games could be taken to a whole new level with the ability for thousands of people on one team to engage thousands of others in a real-time virtual tug of war.
Science will greatly benefit from affordable and easy to use stream processing capabilities as well. The ability to monitor complex environmental phenomena such as air quality, temperature, wind patterns, radiation, and even the flow of water through tributaries or the motion of people through crowded cities will make possible more accurate data models for use in civil engineering, natural resource management and environmental protection.
All of these experiences and advancements, along with many more that we can even fully imagine yet, are enabled by a new set of emergent technologies in the real-time data stream processing space. Advances in cloud computing, coupled with custom-built processing logic of fast moving data are coming together at a point in time when data is omnipresent and always in motion.
These new solutions and technologies will enable engineers, scientists, software developers and researchers to more accurately model our world, to create experiences that allow everyone to participate simultaneously and to build applications that perform tasks that would have been impossible even three years ago.