CES Exclusive: Syfy Launches New Tech Lab

To help it better exploit the use of new technologies to increase interest in its original programming, the Syfy channel has launched Syfy Labs.

During CES this week, the network will also be demonstrating some of the key initiatives in virtual reality, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that will be the focus on the new innovation lab, explained Matthew Chiavelli, senior VP of Syfy Digital in an interview.

The Syfy Labs will be based in their existing offices.

“This formalizes our commitment to these experiences and to make them part of everything we do with our digital experiences,” Chiavelli said.

It also builds on a long tradition of experiments with technology that dovetail well with its audience and programming. “We started doing podcasts with Battlestar Galactica before people were doing podcasts,” noted Chiavelli.

More recently it has experimented with virtual reality for shows like The Expanse and worked with the Philips Hue Internet-connected lighting system to add features to the Syfy Sync app that change the lighting along with plot developments in shows like The Expanse and 12 Monkeys.

During CES, Syfy will be showing off these initiatives at an interactive space located in Booth Gl-4 in the Grand Lobby of the convention center.

One of these is a partnership with 3D print tech provider MakerBot.

As part of that alliance, the network will be offering 3D models related to Syfy programming on MakerBot’s Thingiverse.

These models include a ship from The Expanse called The Knight.

A MakerBot spokesperson noted that the alliance with Syfy is the first 3D alliance with a major network. But he noted that they expect additional ones because 3D printing offers programmers a way to engage fans by offering them designs for merchandise that can be downloaded at Thingiverse and then printed with a 3D printer.

Currently over 1 million designs are available at Thingiverse.

Another notable alliance on display during CES in Las Vegas is with Samsung.

Syfy is planning to release The Expanse VR app for Samsung Gear VR.

Chiavelli said that they had previously experimented with VR in Google Cardboard but that the new app for Samsung Gear VR will mark an improvement in quality.

He also expects they will be adding additional VR experiences this year.

Also on display in Vegas will be their work with Philips Hue and improvements in their web efforts for shows like The Expanse. “We’ll have a couch set up so they can see the lighting with The Expanse,” Chiavelli said. “But it’s also important to stress that while we’re looking at cutting edge technologies we are applying the same filter to everything we do in digital….So one of things we’ll showing at CES is some really beautiful web experiences on interactive screens.”

The demos will be available to CES attendees and press during CES from Jan. 5-9, 2016.