"The beauty of mobile," says Rebecca Allen, 56, "is you're actually navigating and interacting. You're not stuck behind a computer." As the head of two Nokia labs, Allen is imagining a future that weaves entertainment and technology into real life. At MIT in 1978, Allen and a team that included Nicholas Negroponte created the Aspen Movie Map, a "surrogate travel system" for the virtual exploration of the Colorado town. Now the Emmy Award winner has unveiled the Westwood Experience, which allows participants armed with a Nokia N900 to see how the L.A. neighborhood looked in the past even as they experience it in real time—a concept her labs will apply to travel, shopping, and live-action gaming. "The audience not only walks through the story, it becomes a character," she says.
Hollywood has an enormous variety of academic institutions, innovative media businesses and unique creative talent. It offers exactly the right ingredients for research into topics that will be vital for Nokia's business in the future. The link with the movie industry is naturally strong, however the entertainment concepts we will be working on at the NRC Hollywood laboratory are even more diverse. The laboratory will explore new entertainment experiences that combine the physical and digital worlds. Our research work will focus on mixed reality experiences, with a strong community flavor. We will develop new user interfaces that fully explore the role of the human body and human motion for more natural forms of interaction. Mobile devices will play a central role in this.