The rise of interactive convergence

“Games are the convergence of everything,” began a recent article in business magazine Forbes, the premise of which was that the integration of social and internet components is allowing players to experience a new era of immersive game play.


Sounds exciting, but what does such interactive covergence mean for business? How will the convergence of user interfaces – such as touch, voice and gesture – change the way we work and use information?


Let’s return briefly to the games industry, where media specialist iConecto reports that health electronic games represent 16% of the video gaming industry, amounting to a $6.6bn annual global market.


Owners of a Nintendo games console will have already seen the potential fun and health benefits that can be garnered by playing such games as Wii Sports and Wii Fit. These converged simulations require individuals to make best use of a combination of movements and gestures.


But Nintendo is not the only business wise to the positive effects of convergence. North American insurers are also realising the benefits of gaming, with healthcare specialist Cigna creating Remission – a game that helps young cancer patients build an adherence to oral chemotherapy.


Beyond gaming, some organisations are already developing a leading edge in covergence. Take the BBC, which is planning to work alongside ITV and British Telecom to further develop its popular iPlayer service.


Internet TV subscribers will grow five-fold to 71.6 million worldwide by 2012, according to analyst Research and Markets. The firm reports that convergence features, linking TVs with PCs and mobile phones, are helping to push demand for an increasing range of content.


Over the Atlantic, the recently completed CES conference was dominated by issues surrounding the convergence of content and technology. The conference shows technology companies and finding innovative ways to push information across a series of converged platforms.


IT leaders that are not already thinking about developing their own converged systems will also need to prepare for a raft of new converged applications and technologies. The result will be multiple methods for using mashed-up content, many of which have not even yet been considered.


Planning for an unplannable future just got even more diificult. Good luck.


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