When a group of 150 technologists and content developers gather to rethink the future of digital entertainment, innovative new ideas are bound to emerge.
Add to the mix a $10,000 prize for the winning entry; $5,000 and $3,000 prizes, respectively, for second and third place; and a “hackathon” for this year’s reimagined show — INTX: The Internet & Television Expo — and innovation takes on a whole new meaning.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s first-year developer challenge, INTXHACK, is set for May 2-3 at 1871, Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub for digital startups, culminating in a live final event on May 6 in INTX’s Imagine Park area to determine the winning entry.
“The NCTA is keen to introduce the youth element to the cable industry, and [the] hackathon is an opportunity to bring these young, talented people to cable’s largest show, and to encourage them to innovate and create, because if you don’t listen to younger consumers, you’ll probably lose,” Mark Bell, the NCTA’s vice president of industry affairs, said.
No one is actually expected to lose INTXHACK. All entries will be judged by a panel of cable experts from some of the industry’s most notable companies, giving high visibility to each participant’s work.
That work will include developing the “next big app” for themes spanning online video, TV Everywhere, connected life, advanced user interfaces/navigation and advanced advertising. Judges will pick the top six apps for the finals at Imagine Park.
Developers won’t be tied to a narrow set of themes.
“There’s no requirement to stay neatly tied to cable-specific areas,” Bell said. “It’s an opportunity for us to embrace change and new, innovative ideas.”
Thirteen companies, including Comcast/NBCUniversal (which just completed a successful hackathon itself), Microsoft, CNBC and others will present the challenges, with each entry expected to offer innovative new ways to produce, present and experience TV shows, movies, games and other digital forms of entertainment.
Finalists will then be featured in a special INTX showcase exhibit providing access to thousands of media, entertainment and investment executives.
Entrants will also have the opportunity to present their ideas throughout the three-day event.
“These young, creative developers will have 24 hours to come up with the next big app and the challenge is open to everyone, with most coming from the Chicago area,” Bell said. “We wanted to integrate youth into the fabric of the show.”
Local startup companies housed at 1871, the city’s renowned tech incubator, will also be on hand at INTX to develop connections with the broader Internet and TV industries.
The ultimate goal of INTXHACK is to “leverage the hot bed of innovation in Chicago and embrace new, innovative ideas,” Bell said.
Many of those creations will be on display at various “Intersections” sprinkled throughout the NCTA’s newly configured exhibit, which is designed to resemble a city.
Each Intersection will reflect key themes and trends within today’s dig it a l economy, Bell said, including TV Everywhere, streaming video, the Internet of Things, gaming and navigation.
“We needed to be more than just a name change to INTX, because now we’re inviting all of the stakeholders in the digital community,” he said. “So, the construct of the floor needed to change to allow low-cost entry to new companies and to spotlight key theme categories while attracting new companies.”
Each Intersection Pavilion will include floor-level visuals to encourage interaction, with branded pedestals for content playback and app demos.
The wide variety of participating companies is especially notable, Bell said.
“There’s a good mix of established companies and new companies that are intersecting content, technology, Internet and more,” he said. “That’s very typical in Imagine Park, so Intersection is a great way for these companies to participate in spotlight categories.”
There will also be a mix of kiosks and small living-room vignettes scattered throughout the Intersections.
Time will also be set aside for mingling and networking, with a Happy Hour on the show floor set for 6 p.m. each day. Bars are located at each Intersection.
Crossing the ‘Intersections’
Here a sampling of Intersections show attendees can expect to see, including several that will feature first-ever participants to the NCTA-led show:
• TV everywhere: Will explore the consumer choice, ease of sign-on and new measurement and monetization models for the TVE industry. CTAM will also give attendees statistics about consumer awareness and adoption. In addition to CTAM, ABC/Disney Networks, C-SPAN, Jinni, Starz, Univision, and Watchwith will be among the expected participants.
• Streaming media: This intersection will feature next-generation multichannel networks, platform providers, device makers and channels. Look for companies such as ActiveVideo (soon to be part of Charter Communications and Arris), AdGorilla, Gravity TV, HBO, and Sling TV, among others.
• Internet of Things: Will focus on trends, technologies and opportunities for the connected home/connected life space, along with chipsets, sensors, wearables and more general components of the Smart Home of the future. Cisco, Comcast, Cox, IBM, Intel and Sigma Systems will be among the companies at this Intersection.
• Gaming: Consoles and multiplayer gaming to virtual reality and beyond highlight the gaming intersection of top platform providers, game makers/publishers, device makers and media companies. Augur LLC, Immersion and Samsung VR will be among the companies represented.
• Navigation: Discovering, navigating and sharing content across multiple devices and displays are vital to the growth of user interfaces. This INTX Intersection aims to bring together best-in-class UX and UI enhancements and navigational tools. Look for companies such as Espial, ESPN, Gracenote, HSA, LG Electronics, TiVo and WebTuner to be on hand.