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Augmented Reality-Based Audio Podcast Enlivens the Camino De Santiago

The Pilgrim podcast was created for the Bose Frames

The Camino de Santiago, a centuries-old pilgrimage location in Spain, known as “The Way of Saint James” in English, attracts many Christian pilgrims every year. While many people flock to the location on their way to visiting the Santiago de Compostela cathedral situated in Galicia, a Spanish coastal city. Others visit the location to enjoy hiking through the rural areas of Spain and France.

The journey is considered a path of realisation and reflection for many pilgrims, who are also able to share their experiences and accounts with fellow travellers. For those who are unable to go on this journey, the wonders of augmented reality can be of great help.

A development team has cooperated with a bunch of creatives to combine leading-edge innovation with radio-quality journalism, to create an augmented reality-based audio podcast. Known as ‘Pilgrim’, the audio experience enables its listeners to take digital walks with hikers who are physically walking the trail. AR audio technology, an integral component of cutting-edge AR storytelling, offers listeners a lot more than just what can be seen through their eyes.

Pilgrim, an AR audio podcast, debuted on the streets of Amsterdam late last year

Lauren Hutchinson, the creator of Pilgrim, has developed the project with co-director Saschka Unseld and producer Gabo Arora. She spoke regarding the project, explaining that walking with a person for some time helps create closeness. With this experience, listeners meet individuals and converse for a while, and then go their separate ways. Hutchinson likens the experience of life in general.

Hutchinson, a BBC radio journalist, started accumulating stories regarding ‘Pilgrim’, during her 2015 journey on a section of this path. Initially, the stories she collected were planned to be used for a radio documentary.

The experience witnessed its debut at last year’s Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. It uses customised and fluid algorithmic storytelling to adjust the experience based on the walking pace, present location, and interest of listeners. By utilising development software from Unity, the creators were able to incorporate something described by Hutchinson as “latched, unlatched state”.

A listener who is standing still can experience the sound of voices and footsteps coming near and going away from them. To listen more they just have to start walking along with a hiker and get into the story more. If listeners want to stop, they just need to stop walking themselves. They can then commence their journey till another hiker comes near them.

The longer a person accompanies a pilgrim, the more they can progress into the story. According to Hutchinson, the software offers an experience that can be likened to a flow of consciousness affecting users during their walks.

Participants of this experience have to put on a pair of augmented reality headphones like the Bose Frames. A beta version of Pilgrim was developed last year specifically for use with Bose Frames. Pilgrim’s creators utilised the compass, accelerometer and gyroscope tools of a smartphone to connect with the AR sunglasses. The experience lasts for a duration of one hour and has multiple stories.




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