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Gravidi wants to put clickable hotspots on videos for iOS

At SXSW I found a kiosk showing off a beta of the app Gravidi. It allows producers to add a layer of interactivity to videos by embedding hotspots in the video, and adding other activity around it. For users, it provides a way to learn more about moments in a video, or people or objects in that video as it plays. The app is currently in beta, but they are showing it off around SXSW featuring a number of bands and their music videos.

While clickable video has been tried before (I remember adding hotspots to QuickTime video a decade ago), Gravidi is offering a nicely designed experience for users and tools for producers on the back end. The app for consumers will be free, the back end for producers will cost, but no details on price were available when I spoke to them.

The question, to me, will be whether viewers will want to interact with video they would normally "veg out" to. Steve Jobs once described watching movies as a "lean back" experience, versus the more interactive clicking around we do when on a computer. But since the iPad is a sort of intermediate device, I can see a point at which users are more accustomed to interacting with a video as it is playing. As with the plethora of "second screen" apps that have been appearing, time will tell whether consumers want to divide their attention.

While some of this will depend on negotiations with media folks (studios who wish to add these hotspots), there are applications beyond mere entertainment. A professor could overlay hotspots at key scenes in a film for a class, or a training video could provide more information at critical points. If the tools for producers are easy enough to use, that is.

Meanwhile, Gravidi has a good approach, and partnering with SXSW to work with bands is a good start. In the demo I saw, a band played through a music video, and you could learn more about the band, the director and specific moments throughout the video. Little icons designating hotspots would periodically float down from the top (to draw your eye), and land on a spot where you can click to see a pop-up screen with more info. At that point you can jump to the content or go back to the video. The experience was fast and fluid.

What I felt was even more important for bands was a button up top which looked like a ticket and will bring you to a window showing a band's next performances (and presumably buy tickets). Since the production tools weren't on display, there's a question of whether producers will go through the effort needed to populate all this data. In fact, that's a huge question for educational producers.

That said, what users will see is a clean interface. It's a question of changing habits for users (something a wave of second-screen apps may be changing anyway), and Gravidi is banking on them wanting to click around in a video as it plays. If Gravidi can convince content creators to add the interactivity in ways which appeal to users, they may have a winner on their hands.

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