Are you a second screener?

Until very recently, this was a new term for me. I think I would have assumed it was something to do with the cinema…

Second, or dual screening is actually referring to the use of companion devices to the main device being viewed, typically your television. One example recently released in to the market is the Wii U which offers a second device that interacts with the main console, creating a unique gaming environment. Playstation and Microsoft have followed suit – I can now even use my iPhone as a second screen to my Xbox using Xbox SmartGlass.

Other examples include mobile applications which are tightly tied in to a TV show such as My Kitchen Rules NZ, where the public could vote through the MKR application and help influence the result of the show.

Disney has an entire site dedicated to the second screen:


The second screen content is intended to add value to the first screen – information about characters or additional plot information.

The reality is that we have all been doing this for a very long time. How many of you can honestly say that you do not have some kind of device active when you are watching the TV? You are more than likely in Facebook whilst watching your favourite show and are probably posting about what you are watching as you watch, or holding a conversation with a friend on an entirely different topic.

But what does this mean for corporate IT, for the provision on information internally and externally and can spatial fit in? Is there a space for second screening in our industry and if so, what must we do to add value to content through second screening?

I don’t have a definitive answer for this today, but with the continuing rise in the number of people using a smart phone or tablet as their primary device for accessing content this is something that we should be thinking about today. Is there a market for spatial professionals to be producing mapping content for shows such as Game of Thrones using the technology and expertise that we have to build beautiful and interactive content for access as the characters move about their world? As events are being talked about on the news, could there be a mapping application setting the location context for the article? Could the second screen be delivering content associated to the first using augmented reality to offer the alternative perspective from the main map display?

Second screening lends itself to the provision of additional information supporting the “main” content – which is why enhanced TV show character information is the most prevalent today.

I have no doubt that through the next year we will see application providers developing small and focused applications which will enhance a primary application, possibly as a mechanism for improving the migration of solutions to new devices. As users become more familiar with the concepts, demand will mean that we have to embrace concepts like this in order to meet users expectations about content provision.

In the meantime, I am certainly going to be looking out for an opportunity to explore this a little more deeply. After all, our industry is all about adding value and that is what second screening sets out to deliver.

Update on Wednesday 13th March:

I received this email from a colleague in response to this post:

“Adobe are a good example of where a GIS apps could go with second screening
Here are 3 mobile apps that are used to work alongside Photoshop to provide more screen real estate to the image. Swap Photoshop and Image for a GIS Desktop and map and you have a good idea.

GIS users are constantly battling for screen space and as with the Photoshop example being able to have the tool pallets on a separate touch device could be very useful.

Second screening with the Disney model also has potential. How good would it be to give a presentation or briefing where the attendee could have a map synchronised to the presentation on a tablet that they could supplement with their own data layers or even take geo tagged notes of their own during the briefing.”

Thanks for that insight – very interesting indeed.

Overnight I also thought of another application for a second screen in the GIS space. Why not use that other device to present an alternate view of the data you are looking at on screen 1? Perhaps the second screen could be an x-ray through the content of interest and allow you to select a 3D view, or filter to see just the Utility network. Image recognition already allows the synchronisation of displays so it would be straight forward enough to achieve.

– Neil