Smart speakers and voice assistants (such as Alexa) are portals we can use to connect printed children’s books with digital music and sound. What sorts of new interactive storytelling might this create?

As you read aloud to a child, a voice assistant could recogniseyour words and add music and sound effects. But that’s just the beginning. What might happen if the music and sound effects then changed from reading to reading?

Then what if you played a sound effect and asked the child to find the thing in the book that made that sound? What if the characters in the book started talking to you? 

What if the printed book became the kernel of a multifaceted, interactive story world full of music and sound? What if one book actually generated many stories?

No one wants voice assistants to replace human parents and carers. By combining printed picture books, AI, music, sound and the spoken word, though, we can explore new sorts of interactive storytelling with the potential to do the opposite: deepen connections between people and improve children’s life chances by making shared reading experiences more playful, enjoyable and educationally valuable. 

Babinko’s When the Music Played combines a printed picture book with multiple voice-activated audio tracks accessed via voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Home. Have a play with our prototype at the talk and look out for our Kickstarter campaign - coming soon! #onebookmanystories

This Lunchtime Talk is part of Open Studio Friday, which takes place at the Studio every week.

Do you want to find out what is going on at the Pervasive Media Studio? Are you interested in meeting our residents, talking about a specific project or curious about pervasive media? Why not pack a sandwich and join us for one of our Lunchtime Talks and Open Studio Friday. Lunchtime Talks are informal presentations by Studio residents and associates. They normally take place at 1pm on Friday, are free and open to everybody who’s interested in what we do. After the Talk, we also invite you to stay with us for the afternoon to continue the conversation or work on your own projects. We provide chairs, tables, wireless and a great space. You bring what you need to work with (laptop/mobile). Our open afternoons close at 5pm. Let us know if you’d like a tour of the space and we'll be happy to show you around just before the talk. Send an email to: studio@watershed.co.uk to book your place on a tour.