When I ask people here in the high tech industry about where the convergence of entertainment and technology are happening, I hear a lot about the application of technology (and particularly the Internet) to distributing content. In most cases, it’s content companies looking to take advantage of new Internet technology — video streaming, user generated content, social networking sites, etc. — to promote their content. It’s less about actually creating technology that can be applied to the entertainment sector.
However, every once in awhile you see efforts which are squarely in the technology-being-created-for-entertainment area. In that camp is the news that Disney has launched an effort with two, well known computer science schools — Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich — to create R&D labs within those schools.
Given the surprising amount of technology innovation being applied to the back end of the entertainment process–particularly in the area of computer graphics and animation–it’s not surprising. There’s an immense amount of engineering talent going into things like amusement park rides, animation rendering technology, robotics, and other areas. Despite that technology being applied to the “behind the scenes” parts of the entertainment industry, it often seems like the content area — i.e. actor-creates-web-site — seems to get lots more attention.