Executive Summary

The National Theatre were looking for a digital experience to engage visitors with the theatricality of the building they inhabit, through playful exploration. Calvium consulted on and implemented an iBeacon installation, which invites visitors to create their own drama, using the architecture of the space as inspiration.

The app points out architectural details as family groups explore different spaces, directing them to pose for dramatic scenes together, building a storyboard of photos as they play together around the building.

When Denys Lasdun designed the National Theatre, he had the idea to make a fourth theatre – one where the actors are the people who pass through here every day. In the fourth theatre dramas happen everywhere. The entrances and exits are behind you, or above you. And the action spills out into the open air

Hidden Stages app, National Theatre

Challenges

As a large indoor space, we opted for iBeacons to help navigate visitors through the various “stages” of their visit. iBeacons provide a lot of opportunities for indoor positioning, but they can also behave in unexpected ways; bluetooth passes through walls & floors, reflects around corners and amplifies in steel lift shafts – requiring careful investigation to work out solutions. With on-site testing, Calvium found locations and techniques that made the most of the available space, allowing the story to continue in the desired positions.

HiddenStages-Screenshots

How Calvium Helped

When iBeacon technology was first announced back in early 2014, Calvium took it upon themselves to carry out internal investigation into the technology. Our experience in working with beacons was therefore essential in the successful delivery of Hidden Stages.

We were brought in as a consultant during the idea-generation phase, working with the National Theatre’s writers to establish how the possibilities could be realised. From here, we began to refine concepts and develop prototypes that could be tested with families on site.

Results

The result of this project is an innovative indoor experience that makes use of an exciting technology. The Hidden Stages app is an excellent addition to the National Theatre’s range of engaging family activities.