Sprint’s Creepy View of a Connected Future Has Little Room for Hollywood

The wireless provider shows off a future that fails to show off how entertainment looks in its version of 'The Jetsons'

In a curiously creepy video recently posted online by Sprint, the wireless carrier provided its vision of a connected future. What’s interesting — outside of the high-tech gadgetry — is that Hollywood is absent from the lives of the various members of the family featured going about their daily lives.

Kids are shown playing virtual baseball; a grandfather monitors his health; a mother orders groceries and a birthday cake; a daughter checks the local traffic patterns.

It’s all very “Jetsons” how consumers will be able to turn to Sprint as they continue to stay glued to screens (sometimes even non-existent ones).

But at no time in the video, posted on Sprint’s blog on Sept. 26, does this fictional family stop to stream a video from a Netflix or other digital entertainment provider. These people seem too busy enjoying each other’s company or rushing to get together to want to be distracted by a movie, TV show or game.

One possible reason: Sprint may not have wanted to present a future where people are immobile, constantly staring at screens like the bloated humans in “Wall-E” — Sprint is, after all, a mobile company.

Either way, it’s a nightmarish scenario for Hollywood that plays out in a little over five minutes.

Sprint said the video aims to show “how innovation in wireless technology, including a faster intelligent network, augments reality to help a busy family stay connected in a seamless way,” according to Stephen Bye, Sprint’s chief technology officer.

It’s in Bye’s blog post on Sprint’s website, where he does mention Hollywood in an introduction to the video.

“Smartphones are undeniably smart in 2013 – allowing us to book a flight, locate our children, listen to music, read books, video chat, watch movies and so much more,” he writes. “But, what we can do today is only the tip of the iceberg, and none of these services are possible without a network. It Takes a Network to make a smartphone ‘smart.’ In the future, our wireless network will be faster and our services will be much more intuitive. Because of our network we will be able to anticipate, predict and make recommendations based on your preferences and your consent.”

He goes on to envision a future where Sprint’s network detects emotions and sends jokes when it notices someone’s sad. A little creepy? Certainly. But Bye also embraces gesture controls, eliminating the need to swipe a finger across the screen — the way Microsoft’s Kinect now makes games and videos accessible.

In Sprint’s world, augmented reality, real-time natural language translation, streaming video, facial recognition, secure remote access, intelligent presence, voice, visual- and movement-based pattern recognition, mobile concierge, biomedical monitoring and multi-party streaming video are the norm.

“Today smartphones are passive,” Bye says. “We tell the device what we want it to do. In the future your device and the network could be your personal concierge, predicting what you want and need based on learning your behavior or relying on information you provide. … “Wireless networks enable entertainment, communication and collaboration. I am very confident that 10 years ago you never dreamt you’d be using your mobile phone to do half the things you use it for today.”

Even if Sprint doesn’t make a big deal of it, you can be sure digital execs at the studios and TV networks are now working overtime to figure out how to exploit entertainment across that expansive mobile network as well.

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