Rethink Audio have been working on a new audio guide for the renowned photographer Marcus Lyon. The project, Somos Brasil, explores the diversity of Brazilian identity at the outset of the 21st century through ultra high quality portraits, DNA… and a revolutionary exhibition app, created by Rethink Audio and Bristol-based coders Calvium.
You can try it for yourself today: the Guardian are featuring a number of portraits from the series in both their print and online editions.
— Fiona Shields (@fshields) July 29, 2016
The Somos Brasil app works by image recognition: you hold your phone’s camera up to any image in the exhibition (or the book, now on sale) and it automatically plays you an audio interview with the person in the portrait. No ugly QR codes, no ‘select a number’ – just point and listen.
Available in both Portuguese and English, Rethink Audio spent several weeks working with translators in Rio to edit both the native and English versions, liaising with the artists to provide text versions for the book and exhibition.
This isn’t the first smartphone app that Rethink’s director Matt Hill has created: in 2012 he put together Hackney Hear with Francesca Panetta, which won the Prix Europa for audio innovation that same year.
That, too, was built for an Olympic city – and led to a wave of geo-triggered audio guides that give you a tour of a place. The second was another award winner: Soho Stories, produced with the National Trust.
Of course, doing an audio guide indoors presents different problems: you can’t use GPS as accurately as you can walking, say, down a street. In collaboration with Calvium, we had a period of research and development, looking at what APIs were available that hadn’t been used in this way before. And that’s how we landed on this solution.
We do urge you to try it: the experience is utterly seamless and immersive. Of course, you’ll need to visit the exhibition or get your hands on the book for full access to the audio. They launch in autumn 2016 and we’ll post updates here.