Axonista CEO speaks at Westminster Media Forum

Speech, as Presented by : Claire McHugh, Co‐Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Axonista

Axonista is a provider of audience engagement technology to the broadcast industry.  We make things like TV companion mobile apps, VOD and streaming apps for devices like Xbox and Roku and we power them with our Ediflo server platform.  We’re very fortunate to work with lots of well known international and forward thinking broadcasters including TV3, QVC, Channel 5 and MTV Networks.

I’d like to share with you some of my own observations from the past few years of working at the intersection of TV and mobile, having come from a broadcast background originally.  I used to create the programming schedules for Setanta Sports.  I had the onerous job of trying to interpret our audience data into something meaningful, and when I take a look back, it’s astonishing how much change has already happened in the industry in just a few short years.  The traditional well crafted TV schedule is becoming a thing of the past, a lost art.  We’re witnessing the start of a huge shift in the broadcast industry.

We live in a hyperconnected, always ‘on’ world where everything is conveniently available, something I like to call Generation Now.  We want to feel connected to a tribe, something bigger than ourselves. We can follow anyone, anywhere, and many of us have friends that we’ve never actually met in person. Geographical borders are fading away as the world becomes closer.  We want to choose our own adventure. We want to watch our favourite shows as soon as they are available and at whatever time is convenient to our schedules, not broadcast schedules.

People are starting to realise that maybe they can live without their cable TV subscriptions.  Just a few days ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings predicted that the age of broadcast TV would be over by 2030.  As everyone no doubt knows, Mr Hastings likes to stir up a bit of controversy, but that’s just 15 years away.   We’re living in a very exciting time in this industry. Think of the revolution that brought sound to silent movies, colour to black and white, CG to visual effects or even the introduction of the TV set.  All huge advances that made earlier tools look primitive, and while some were met with resistance by the established decision makers, they were ultimately embraced by the upcoming generation of storytellers.

The millennials that are starting to take over executive roles know that the future isn’t a single one way screen that just shows pictures.  What’s starting now with experiments in second screen and new types of interfaces is what all TV is going to be like in 5 to 10 years.  Layered with context and interactivity that can be dialled up and down as much as the viewer wants.  The TV industry must learn to fully embrace this change. And I think it’s a wonderful opportunity.  We now have a direct and measurable two way link to each individual viewer, something that’s been elusive in this industry until now.  We have a set of tools that we can use to tell stories in lots of different ways, offering different viewpoints, immersive experiences and participation like never before! Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of time, through pictures, songs and words.  We’ve been beaming stories into the homes of viewers for almost 100 years!  The world of second screen and audience engagement is an infant in comparison.  We are just starting to learn how to use it.  At first, viewers are drawn to these new apps and modes of interaction as shiny new ways to augment their viewing.  But very quickly the technology fades away and it becomes all about the story.  So we need to refocus on the heart of the matter, and learn to blend creativity and technology to delight and surprise our viewers!

Let’s keep on learning.

An Oculus Halloween Lab Day !

It was an Oculus Lab day at Axonista HQ.

The date was 31st October, Oíche Shamhna, or Hallowe’en, as most humans and ghouls would know it.

The Axonista Team came together to experiment and transform an idyllic Tuscany house, into a Haunted House of Terror, using the Oculus Rift.

Here’s how the game played out…




Restrictions incurred upon the team:

Time Limits – 1 working day to complete the task.

Budget – the most fiercesome creatures in the Unity store were fierce pricey, so the team had to display creativity on a low budget.




Here’s What our Talent of Technicians had to say on...

1. The Order of Things

First came the story, we drew up a storyboard to outline how we wanted to create the Haunted House trail, including notes of required assets.

Everyone chose an area within the house to focus on, keeping some of the horrors secret in order to surprise the rest of us !

Next came the challenge for our technical team, to learn the new software and adapt it to their existing knowledge base.

Team Axonista set up Unity and Oculus, learning Unity through tutorials and documentation, to fulfil the requirements that would complete the scene.





2. Duties

Ian transformed the house environment and researched Oculus+Unity beforehand to see what could realistically be completed in a day.  Lisa and Claire devised the story, and gave the house its voice with terrifying sounds that were triggered when the user stumbled upon certain areas in the scene.  Luke and Colin chose to build the ‘frights’ at each turn.  Colin added a skeletal figure, which triggered all the alarms and flashing lights on approach.  Claire added the giant spider who muttered sweet terror in the user’s ears.  Francesco hacked the lights to trigger light animations according to the user’s movements.  Daragh worked his usual magic throughout, sharing his technical brains with the team, and contributed to the nasty blood splattered floor !

Originally we had the flock of crows inside the house, but that being a little too Hitchcock, we banished them to the garden, where Ian hid a crying creature in a well !



3. Discoveries / Surprises

Nice surprises : The ease of setting up Oculus with Unity.

Nasty Surprises : Unity doesn’t play well with git.




4. Pros and cons of Oculus building

Pros :

Unity worked seamlessly with the Oculus and had the ability to quickly preview changes in the simulator. 

The ease with which the team could make something ‘oculus-ready’ and the fun it was to work in Unity.

Cons :

Wishing Unity would work better with git.

One of the werewolves may have escaped from the game and infected our CEO…



Axonista is Hiring !


We are looking for new talent to join our team at Axonista Central in Dublin !

Creatives and developers alike, we’d love to hear from you.

View the jobs currently available, and if you’d like to join our team, please apply at our Careers Page .


Looking forward to hearing from you !

Team Axonista


Axonista Presents : July Sale on Xbox One and ROKU apps

Axonista welcomes you to our July Sale on Xbox One and ROKU apps !

If you have an app you would like to discuss with us, let us hear your thoughts at

We’re looking forward to sharing some great ideas !


Best News & Entertainment Spider win for ShowPal

Axonista’s  winning streak continues with the win of a  Golden Spider for ShowPal in the Best News & Entertainment category at the 18th 2013 eircom Spiders held at the Convention Centre Dublin on Thursday 28th November.

Commenting on the win, Axonista CEO Claire McHugh said ‘It’s fantastic to see innovation and new technology supported and recognised by this prestigious honour’. The eircom Spiders, now in its 18th year, celebrates the best in Irish technology.

ShowPal is Ireland’s first synced TV viewing companion app.
Initially launching with TV3, it uses innovative audio watermarking technology to bring you closer to your favourite TV3 shows, soaps, sport and movies and adds a layer of enjoyment and fun to enhance your TV viewing experience and can be downloaded here

A full list of the 2013 eircom Spider winners is available here

Axonista wins big at 2013 Appy Awards for ShowPal

Axonista’s ShowPal app won 3 awards at the 2013 Appys for best Entertainment App, best Lifestyle App and the Silver award in the best Tablet App category.

ShowPal is Ireland’s first synced TV viewing companion app.
Initially launching with TV3, it uses innovative audio watermarking technology to bring you closer to your favourite TV3 shows, soaps, sport and movies and adds a layer of enjoyment and fun to enhance your TV viewing experience and can be downloaded here
A full list of the 2013 Appy winners is available here

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