CES 2016: Syfy looks to 3-D printing, VR, and Philips Hue to take storytelling to the next level

By Adam Flomenbaum | Co-Executive Editor

January 7, 2016 | 4 min read

At CES this week, Syfy introduced Syfy Labs, an “innovation lab” devoted to taking the network’s storytelling to the next level.

The lab will focus on creating innovative multiplatform experiences on both existing and new platforms for some of its most popular original programming, which includes The Expanse, The Magicians, and 12 Monkeys.

As part of the launch, Syfy Labs is partnering with leading 3D printing company, MakerBot – offering show-specific 3D models on MakerBot’s Thingiverse. For example, fans will be able to print The Night and The Canterbury, ships from The Expanse.

Syfy Labs is also committing more resources to VR and expanding its relationship with Philips Hue.

After releasing The Expanse VR app on iOS and Android, it will now make the app available to Samsung Gear VR users. With Hue – which uses Syfy Sync to allow fans to sync their home lighting to show experiences – Syfy announced that lighting tracks will be available for the first season of The Expanse, the second season of 12 Monkeys, and Sharknado 4.

For more on Syfy Labs and their launch partnerships, we spoke with Matthew Chiavelli, Senior Vice President, Syfy Digital:

On its commitment to VR:

"The visually rich world of The Expanse provided a perfect opportunity to create a VR experience around. Do I think VR is appropriate for everything? No. But I think Syfy and other folks in this space are just starting to scratch the surface of what this new medium is capable of. As with anything like this, there will be missteps along the way as creators adapt to a new set of rules, but I do think VR as a technology is here to stay."

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On its partnership with MakerBot:

"We know that Syfy viewers are early adopters of new technology and 3D printing has become accessible to more people in the past few years. As a result, there is a huge community of people who create and share their own 3D printable items. We saw the incredible production design of The Expanse as an opportunity to be a part of this community by making 3D models of ships and other items from the series available via MakerBot's Thingiverse. As someone who grew up with Star Wars toys, being able to hold a piece of a story you love in your hands is pretty special and to be able to provide the ability to print your own The Expanse items provides another dimension (no pun intended) to the experience."

On its approach to content:

"In short, it shows our commitment to constantly finding ways to use existing and emerging technologies as part of the storytelling experience. Our fans expect a lot from us digitally, so the bar is already high. Syfy Labs' mission is to instill this spirit of innovation in everything we do, regardless of the content."

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