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Smart contact lens – the future of Netflix?

smart contact lens

Could the future of Netflix be in a smart contact lens? It’s being discussed, and the co-founder of the company is entertaining the prospect.

CEO Reed Hastings stated at MWC 2017, “If virtual reality takes off, we’ll adapt to that. If it becomes contact lenses that have amazing powers, we’ll adapt to that“.

Of course, Netflix-capable contact lenses are currently theoretical. But foreseeing the future, Netflix binge sessions could be beamed directly to your eye via a smart contact lens, and the co-founder of the company is all about it if it happens. Netflix-capable contact lenses are only on pen and papers today and not ready for prime time. We haven’t seen smart contact lens prototypes outside of dozens of sci-fi movies – many of which are on Netflix itself.

However, the thought of projecting video onto a contact lens is an idea that’s been talked about before, when industry leaders have speculated about the future of mobile. It’s a recurring topic. We’ve also seen Google Smart Contacts tied to medical use. They’re not for entertainment – at least not yet – but everyone’s mind went there as soon as they were announced.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at a keynote session during the Mobile World Congress trade show, and the topics he hit in his wide-ranging fireside chat:

On buffering

We want to make buffering a relic like that dial tone“, Hastings said, referring to the noise your old dial-up modem made when you signed into the internet in the early days. Netflix has invested in network servers, codecs and the content delivery mechanisms to reduce the level of buffering. His goal is to make video on any device instantaneous. “That really changes your relationship with the service,“; he said. Netflix has looked at adaptive technology too, and noted that YouTube has learned a lot. He said the industry is working together to improve the experience.

On data caps

Hastings complimented some of the new unlimited data plans that offer limits on speed as a way to contain the strain on the network. AT&T unveiled an unlimited plan today that restricts your speed to 3 megabits a second. Netflix has invested in getting quality video delivered to a phone with just 500 kilobits per second of data speed, Hastings said. He’s shooting to get to 200 kilobits per second.

On piracy

Netflix can be the solution to piracy. At least, that’s what Hastings believes. If Netflix can offer an affordable legal alternative, it’ll be an incentive to get pirates to stop stealing shows. “We’re focusing on the carrot of offering a great service“, he said.

On competition

There’s competition from all side, but “they’re not trying to kill us“, Hastings said. Instead, everyone is trying to serve customers. “In the future, all video will be brought to you by the internet, and Netflix will just be one slice”, he said.

On the future

Netflix attempts to learn about new trends and adapt to them rather than to commit to one vision of the future. If virtual reality takes off, the company will adapt to that trend. Or it might be smart contact lenses, he said, the same ones seen in “Black Mirror“, the tech-based sci-fi series originally on UK’s Channel 4, but now Netflix. Longer term, Hastings has his eye on artificial intelligence. With all the debate about machines taking over one day, “it’s tough to think about entertainment. I’m not sure if we’re going to be entertaining you or entertaining AI”, he quipped.

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