Friday, August 21, 2009

Jane Austen 'themed' Talking Walls application

This is an idea we have had since before Christmas, and at long last have found some free time to work on it. The demo has taken barely a week to produce from initial research through to the final editing of all the different elements. It always takes longer than you think it is going to, this time mostly due to research and putting some finer details in to make it that much easier to watch.

The general concept is to create a Famous People 'themed' Talking Walls series, covering the homes in which they lived, their family, friends and their work. Jane Austen is planned to be the first of these. The series could include famous figures such as William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, The Bronte Sisters and Charles Dickens, building a rich architectural, heritage and digital storytelling resource.

We hope to receive funding from interested parties to develop this project into a full Talking Walls application, exploring the buildings over their lifetime, pulling in the work they created there and their stories whilst living there.

The raw Revit file before taking into 3DS Max.

The application (as in all Talking Walls applications) would be available for iPhones, smartphones, handhelds and kiosks, accessed via The Talking Wall web server so that you would be able to visit any one of the homes, viewing the real space and exploring the virtual with your phone or provided handheld, continuing over the web once back in your own home / country.

The demo above has been greatly reduced in quality to fit within the guidelines for uploading video on this blog, nonetheless it still gives a good idea of Steventon Rectory, how it was positioned and its closeness to the church. This has been modelled based on several hours worth of research over the web. A better quality version can be seen on our website The images it is mostly based on are shown below:

More images will be placed on The Talking Walls website soon, with information gleaned albeit mostly on the rectory. If you have any information that may help with this project, please contact me, I would be grateful for any help clarifying the structure of the building. Thankyou

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Talking Walls - Beaulieu Abbey

The Beaulieu Abbey pilot is now live on our website. This will be free for a trial period which will continue until the kiosk has been installed at Beaulieu Abbey. After the installation, there will be a product launch, and after this the web version will only be available on a membership basis, with content available for download at a small cost (similar to Apple's iTunes app store). The kiosk and web / mobile version will then have the 'Abbey Slices' section uploaded and any tweaks / amendments completed.

Abbey Slices is the real nub of the application. This allows the user to explore the building in the different 'time slices' (major architectural changes based on research and available footplates), and jump to the different centuries to see what the building looked like and how it was used. It will be very worthwhile to re-visit once this goes live.

Imagine having this on your smartphone as you roam around the physical space of the abbey, standing in the apse of the great church and seeing how vast the internal space of the abbey was, or in the cloisters with the buildings complete in all their glory around you. The visitor / user will then be able to re-visit once back at home via the web and explore in more depth, using the fact sheets and lifestyles, or quizzes.

There are nine characters who can 'escort' you on your 'Tour', which can be the full 14 sections or specific ones you are more interested in. The characters have their own little snippets of information about how they lived there, the roles ranging from Abbot Sulbury through to Percy Warbeck, a pretender to the throne seeking sanctuary in the 1400's. They also 'own' a category of the Abbey, such as Medicines and Herbs, 'owned' by the Infirmarian, Brother Thomas.

Nine is the key in this application, created by one side of the KubeMatrix, a tool developed for simple navigation of the content, primarily for mobile use. This takes me on to explain the design and navigation in a little more depth.

The central panel of the application is what you will see once the application is loaded onto a mobile device (Flash players will need to have been installed prior to use). The side panels are for accessing the same content in other ways, the same as in most software programs. This means that the core design does not have to be re-designed to fit multiple screen sizes - or at least that is the theory I have developed.

With regards to the navigation it might help to read the following tips:

Home page:
1 - Spinning matrix = goes back to Home page to choose another section
2 - KubeMatrix = rollover tool tips to help you choose which section i.e. Characters, Quiz'Ed or another
3 - Side bar = chooses sections i.e. Characters, Quiz'Ed or another

Sub pages:
4 - Nine KubeMatrix = chooses sub-sections i.e. the individuals in Characters or puzzles in Quiz'Ed
5 - Thumbnails = chooses sub-sections i.e. the individuals in Characters or puzzles in Quiz'Ed
6 - Side bar = chooses sub-sections i.e. the individuals in Characters or puzzles in Quiz'Ed
7 - 'EXPLORE' strip = goes back to Nine KubeMatrix to pick another sub-section
8 - 'MORE' strip = goes back to full KubeMatrix to pick another section

Each further sub section has obvious buttons in how to progress, but if anyone has problem with navigating further into the application, please let me know. Example of further subsection below:

Once installed at Beaulieu, the plan is to gauge and capture user experience with the application on the kiosk, handhelds and web, improving the concept and final application.

Work has started on a Jane Austen themed Talking Walls application, a small animation of Steventon Rectory, the Austen's home before it was demolished, and will hopefully be posted in the coming week. Meanwhile enjoy the free trial and let me know what you think.