Asunder works with beacons to deliver rich content to a mobile audience 

 

WHAT ARE BEACONS?

Beacons (or BLEs) are pretty simple. Beacons are small, battery-powered devices that emit a signal which enable smartphones recognize when in range. That's pretty much it.

For Asunder Issue No. 1, we positioned twenty beacons over a ten block area near downtown Austin, TX. When a smartphone with the Asunder app comes within range of one of these BLEs, it plays a piece of a story. Story segments can be creating using any media smartphones can deliver—text, audio, videos, images, even vibrations or augmented reality.  

We used twenty, but an Asunder story platform can be created with as few as five beacons. This means that innumerable stories can share the same beacon network and deliver as many distinct experiences in a single geographic area. And these site-specific stories can be experienced at the user’s pace as she explores, wanders, or relaxes.
 

CONTENT IS KING (AND QUEEN)

Beacons are straightforward. Creating compelling content is trickier. We struggled with it; our collaborators did too. This is why we created a Writing Guide. It's no magic bullet. It's more like a map for climbing Mt. Everest—it shows you the way, but you still have to do the work!

We shed blood, sweat, and tears to create Issue 1. But we're realists; we know that a few will love the stories we've created, and many will not. But regardless of our content, we hope Asunder expands the realm of possibilities for using BLEs in the public sphere. Let's make an Internet of Things brimming with custom-made, site-specific, world-class stories. 
 

questions to explore

  1. What new narrative conventions are made possible by beacons?
  2. What types of stories work best when they are hyper-contextualized, nonlinear, and geographically dispersed?
  3. How can mobile content be used to draw our attention toward our surroundings instead of away?
  4. How do we create compelling placemaking experiences using BLEs? 
  5. What opportunities are there for creating site-specific storytelling experiences? 
  6. What are the design principles for the UI/UX for these experiences? 
  7. How do we create BLE experiences that are not creepy or annoying? 
  8. How do we combine the elements of narrative, screen-based interactions, and social interactions into a single seamless experience?
     

Themes to explore

• the built environment / nature
• multiplicity of viewpoints
• fixation
• change / no change over time
• disorientation
• charted / uncharted territory
• familiarity / unfamiliarity
• dislocation
 

• routes and pathways
• lost and found, separation
• interplay between auditory + visual
• interplay between visual + augmented reality
• treasure hunting
• the chance encounter
• the recurring pattern—the nature of attention
• memory