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AR will change the way we watch (and make) TV shows

Having a companion app for a TV show isn't a new concept, but there's reason to believe this app will genuinely provide "an entirely new way of watching TV".

The Archer P.I. app promises to provide fans of the show a deeper engagement by allowing them to solve mysteries themselves by finding clues as they watch the show, or even from real-life objects.

The concept is not unlike an Alternate-Reality game we created to promote TVNZ's season of How to Get Away with Murder (one of my favourite projects by-the-way).

The tech, in particular Augmented-Reality and computer vision, is also something that's been around for a while at that we're very familiar with.

But what makes this example stand out as the potential future of TV shows is a successful marrying of story and tech. 

For those familiar with Archer (one of my favourite TV shows by-the-way), you'll know that every episode is full of easter eggs. Usually, for super-engaged fans, the reward for identifying a background object as an easter egg is a sub-conscious chuckle and a quick reminder of a funny event from a previous episode. 

However, recent seasons have actually rewarded those fans with bonus content, initiatives which have earned Archer's production company, Floyd County, Emmy Awards for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. The upcoming season promises to step-it-up a notch with an AR experience that offers an entirely different sub-story that fans can discover and follow in parallel to the main story.

Another interesting point with this approach is that it's potentially backwards-compatible. Because existing episodes tend to be rich in easter eggs, the producers of Archer could breathe new life into previous seasons by adding this type of experience without having to modify or remaster those episodes, giving hardcore fans another reason to re-binge-watch from the beginning.

I see this approach becoming more and more popular in the near future, possibly influencing creative decisions in shows so they're made in such a way that background details could be expanded into immersive stories in their own right.

Meanwhile, unfortunately for me, the Archer PI app seems to be a US-only experience for now.


AR has mostly been used in games like Pokemon Go as an optional gimmick, but Archer’s approach is far more ambitious. As you watch, the app finds objects in the show that come to life, leaping off the screen and filling in details. Without the app, you’d never know the game was there; it offers a completely new dimension on what you’re watching, and it’ll even work with certain videos and promotional materials as well, throwing Archer into your everyday life.

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