Jimmy Kimmel Hits the Wall!

One of the interesting technology trends taking place is the use of the second screen. It’s not exactly a news flash that people now park in front of their television sets and, while watching a show, tap on their iPad or fiddle with their smartphone. They may be tweeting, tagging content with Shazam, or messaging friends who are also watching the show or game.

For better or worse, this is the new face of entertainment.

Of course, marketers and others are doing their best to transform the challenge (distraction) into an opportunity (money!). But the thing that has been missing from television is the level of interactivity that occurs on the Web and other online spaces.

So far, there has been little opportunity to interact in a meaningful way. TV has remained a passive broadcasting tool.

But a new picture is finally emerging. Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has just unveiled the Wall of America, a live interactive video system that allows viewers to use their Webcams and a Web browser to connect to the show and participate.

Using technology from Cisco Systems, including Jabber Guest, Kimmel can extend the studio to homes across America—or anywhere in the world, for that matter. The show’s producers choose the people who will participate, and up to 20 people can join the wall at any time.

At first glance, the concept may seem a bit gimmicky. But the ability to transform a one-way stream into an interactive environment is brilliant. Expect a lot more of this type of technology in the months ahead.

More importantly, there’s a takeaway here for business and IT leaders: Today’s technology offers new and remarkable ways to connect and interact. The challenge isn’t to tie together various technologies. It’s to rethink and redefine the way human interactions take place in a digital world.

This extends to marketing, R&D, customer service and support—even business operations. Crowdsourcing and social media offer a basic glimpse at what’s possible. But with cameras, sensors, video, audio and new ways to bring groups of people together on an ad hoc and impromptu basis (think Internet of things), creativity and ingenuity are the limits.

Who knew that building a bridge to the future would mean constructing walls rather than tearing them down?