The worlds first iBeacon live documentary
Claiming the title of the world’s first interactive live documentary using iBeacon technology, Door Into The Dark used an aural soundscape to heighten the sense of total immersion as audio triggered by iBeacons carve out the participants’ pathway through the piece. Working with immersive theatre company and Pervasive Media Studio resident Anagram, in 2014, Calvium acted as Technology partner for the project.
Door Into The Dark was an example of how iBeacons could be used creatively, outside of their traditional use in retail marketing and promotion. Blindfolded and lead by a rope, a mobile application on a phone hidden in the blindfold played an audio narrative – including documentary stories and instructions that enable participants to navigate through the tactile landscape. The set and the audio content were designed to be of equal importance for the experience of the participant – and it was the iBeacons that made this possible, allowing audio chapters to be triggered at exactly the right moment.
Amy and May, who together make Anagram had been making documentary films for almost ten years and visited ‘immersive’ theatre events often. After a while they became curious about if it was possible that the two art forms could meet, and how.
We would often go along to see pieces of immersive theatre and feel curious about whether you could use documentary content in that form. We had never encountered anything that did that in an interesting way, and documentary film being our specialism, we always wanted to give it a go.
Anagram began their residency at Pervasive Media Studio in December 2013 where they began working on making Door Into The Dark a reality. With the idea still in its infancy, Anagram had not yet made a decision on the technology they were going to use to do it, hence they approached Calvium.
When we applied for the residency we knew we wanted to use some kind of responsive tech. I knew Calvium were in the PM Studio so I had a meeting with Tom Melamed who first suggested we should use iBeacons.
How Calvium helped
Our technological grasp was essential to the experience of the user. We took a staged approach to working with Anagram and the technology. First, we worked with them to get to a point where we all understood what it felt to trigger audio based on iBeacons within a contained space. Then, Calvium built a system and installed the beacons so that they could quickly and easily tweak the experience without needing to ask us for every change – this gave them the control they needed and sped up the development process. Finally, we added monitoring so that Anagram could track each user and learn from the journeys that people took.
Results and Future Plans
Door Into The Dark gained worldwide accolades and received incredible feedback. It premiered at Sheffield iDocs where Ingrid Kopp, Director of Interactive at the Tribeca Film Institute reviewed it as; ‘…Incredible. The kind of experience where the world feels different afterwards.’
Calvium took our ideas and aims, and made them technically viable via creative solutions. It was Calvium’s input on our approach that led to the use of beacons in Door Into The Dark and we’ve never looked back.