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 recognise your 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 the prototype at the talk and look out for the One Book Many Stories Kickstarter campaign coming soon.