News

Indoor Interactive Sound-Scapes

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With the integration of the indoor location system, WiFiSLAM, into our AppFurnace development tool, we are now able to create immersive apps that respond to where you are inside a building. The development work was commissioned as part of the REACT Heritage “Memory of Theatre” project.

The researchers on the project wanted to create a living archive for memories of audience members of Bristol Old Vic Theatre. Memories are recorded and virtually placed at the location in which they were recounted. The theatre itself then acts as a virtual “Theatre of Memory” described by its Artistic Director Tom Morris as, “a house full of memories which are somehow in the ether and which allow an audience to feel empowered about their own experience in relation to art.”

The artistic vision for the listening experience was to design an app that could tune in to memories “in the ether”, simply by walking through the theatre space. The project needed a technology that would allow automatic triggering of stories without needing to press buttons or interact with a device. They wanted people to be able to put their phones in their pockets and just let the stories wash over them as they walk around. Technically, this would mean creating an app that could behave the same as GPS-triggered experiences, like street stories, that work in outdoor spaces.

Fortunately, WiFiSLAM provides an affordable indoor positioning solution that can work with Android phones without requiring the user to carry any special tags or hardware.

“The solution uses algorithms developed by a team of Stanford University graduates, so that it works just using wifi base stations and is capable of accuracy within a few metres. This means that to install and set up a system is relatively painless, assuming that there is WiFi at the venue and it is possible to install a few additional wireless access points if necessary.”
– Cliff Randell of Pyxis design

Here’s a photograph of the test app to check location accuracy in Bristol Old Vic.

Test program

From Calvium’s point of view the fact that wifislam reports location events as GPS readings means that we can provide our clients with the same easy to use location tool that we provide in our AppFurnace development tool with our GPS maps. We were able to integrate the floor plans from Bristol Old Vic into the platform so that the creative team could easily add points for every story that they had recorded and associate the corresponding audio file with that location.

Below is the interface the sound-scape designers use to mark story location inside the Bristol Old Vic Theatre.

Location interface for indoor points

Calvium also developed the necessary audio programming logic, making the end experience true to the artistic vision for the piece.

Having done the integration work and developed a good working relationship with the team at WiFiSLAM, we are happy to be able to offer this solution to other customers interested in an indoor location aware app.

Please contact jo@calvium.com to find out more.