At a time when connected television is really taking off, an iPad app has just appeared which can potentially turn anyone and everyone into a producer of multimedia interactive video.

TouchCast: Video Production Augmented by Web Tools

During Barack Obama’s televised State of the Union speech in February this year, the White House official website broadcast the event in real time using video enriched with graphics, statistics and tweets setting out various arguments. Was this experience a foretaste of the future of online video? Judging by the recent appearance of an iPad app developed by New York startup TouchCast, the answer may well be yes. The app is intended to enable any and every user not only to view and interact with multimedia content video, but to go one better and actually create advanced video material with ease.

Beyond standard videos

As the name suggests, there are two sides to the TouchCast app, the more exciting of which is the production space, the ‘Cast’ side. Basically you use your iPad with its integral camera to film the images you wish to use. A number of widgets known as video apps (vApps) are then available to enable you to superimpose text, web pages, videos, Google maps, tweets, photos, etc. on to the original images. The size and position of this integrated content can be modified at will simply by touching the screen. There is also good news for developers: the TouchCast founders intend to turn the platform into an open one so that any developer can introduce his own apps or personalise existing ones. The second area, the ‘Touch’ side, is a space in which to browse the latest TouchCasts from other users, i.e. it functions as a kind of social network.  Every user can explore, search, record and interact with productions by other TouchCast users.

A way to combine active and passive modes?

“While the Internet has changed the distribution model for video, it hasn’t really transformed video content,” argues Erick Schonfeld, former editor-in-chief of leading technology media organisation TechCrunch and co-founder of TouchCast, adding: “Online video feels walled off from the rest of the web (…) not really interacting with the rest of the site, or with any other online content.” A number of recent studies have shown that during the evening users now tend to use their mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – while leaving the television switched on. This is the basic reason behind the TouchCast team’s idea of combining the experience of the first screen with that of the second, while awaiting a more profound revolution in the way news and information content is broadcast and shared. 

By Ruolin Yang