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VOICEBOOK (Prototype)

DATE 2017


ROLE Creative Producer

Children’s publisher Wonderbly engaged me to help devise and deliver a prototype voice-controlled story book as part of their product development Story Studio. The intention was to build upon an early research and development project: an app that not only detected what a user was saying, but how they were saying it.


Based on a small list of interactions proved in the prototype - elongating words, repeating them, and saying words at different volumes, I helped the team develop a story based on a personification of the human voice, that has been ‘lost’ and needed to return home.  Over the course of the voice’s journey, it encounters obstacles like mountain ranges, runaway trains and threatening mice, but it’s able to shift and grow and change in the way that all voices can, in order to overcome them. A reader might repeat the word ‘Up!’ in order to propel the voice high into the air, or it might stretch a word out for a long time in order to make the voice grow long and thin.

Voicebook was an attempt to use interactive mechanics to encourage adults to read to their children in more dramatic and engaged ways; where someone might feel shy about reading in a silly voice, having different things happen depending on how a word was said would provide an incentive to experiment and read playfully.

Unfortunately, development didn’t yield results quickly enough to justify further spending on the project. Whilst a great deal of progress was made on an animated prototype, there were enough bugs to cause concern over whether we could develop a sufficiently seamless experience within the allocated budget, and Voicebook was cancelled. It’s important to talk about projects that didn’t work out as well as ones that did, and I’m still proud of the ideas that went into this one, especially Nicolau's fantastic illustration work.

A full post mortem of the Voicebook project, written by the head of the Story Studio, can be found here.

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