You can try the Audio Tour demo anywhere!
- Choose an outdoor starting point location so you can safely roam up to 50 meters (150 feet) in any direction.
- On smartphone or tablet, click below to browse to the demo web page, then choose your language and read the on-screen directions.
- Click the button I have read the instructions, then please be standing at your starting point location, and stay there for the few seconds until the red-colored animated bird icon appears at the STARTING POINT label at the center of the map.
- Click to choose a theme, then click the Hear Audio button and, if safe to do so, move up to fifty meters away from your starting point in any direction.
- Expect to hear a message whenever the bird icon is within an orange circle. If there is a darker, thicker line segment along the circle, the bird icon should point toward that line segment to hear the matching message.
- A most recently played message may not repeat.
- Your choice of language and theme generates a unique set of messages, indicated visually by a different set of orange circles on the map.
- You can change language or theme at any time.
- You can reset your starting point to a different location by clicking the button at upper right, or reloading the demo web page.
- This is a demo version. The actual Audio Tour for a real-life outdoor venue would show only the map of that venue overlaid with language and theme selection buttons and the Hear Audio button.
- Try the edit button which is available to venue facilitors to modify or create Audio Tour messages.
- After reading the information here, CLICK HERE to launch the Audio Tour demo.
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If you are planning an Audio Tour as part of your visitors' outdoor experience, consider the benefits of the web page-based Audio Tour software presented here:
The above features bypass disadvantages of conventional Audio Tours:
- Cloud-based software service that is accessed by simply calling up a web page on a smartphone or tablet. There is NO app that must be downloaded.
- Minimal data usage on user cellular plan.
- Automatically delivers a customized sequence of messages for any route taken by visitor.
- Message audio is created using the browser text-to-speech feature of any smartphone browser selected by visitor.
- Messages are generated from text scripts that are easily added, deleted or updated by venue facilitators.
- Each message is precisely associated with a particular GPS latitude and longitude at the venue and optionally also with a device orientation in degrees from north.
- A visual map of the venue with a live dynamic marker continually shows the visitor's geolocation, and also indicates the direction that the visitor's device is pointed.
- A portfolio of Audio Tour themes can be scripted by the venue, with the choice of theme continually selectable by visitor.
- Multi-lingual capability is easily scripted, with choice of language continually selectable by visitor.
- Audio Tour can substitute when expert guide staff is unavailable, to always assure a rich and complete, and never sparse, visitor experience.
- Audio Tour opens up opportunities to harness guide staff's creative power and expertise as they develop surrogate scripts that anticipate, inform, unify and complete a self-guided visitor's experience.
- NO cumbersome smartphone actions required
- NO QR codes or complex instructions on signage
- NO expensive pre-recorded sound tracks
- NO non-timely or only generic sound tracks
- NO dependence on reading and interpreting venue static map
- NO technical skills needed to get location and direction on map
- NO need to download and manipulate an app
- NO Internet connectivity needed after browsing web page... device can be in airplane mode
- NO excessive visitor cellular data plan usage
Audio Tour workshop
with earlier-generation demo
that took place at the
ANJEE Fall 2019 Conference
for NJ Environmental Educators
Table of Contents (Agenda and Goals)
- overview of Audio Tour
- smartphone settings requirements
- short guided demo in Coach Barn area, with optional Turtle Lake Path
- history and motivation for Audio Tour project
- architecture of Audio Tour system
- user/visitor privacy and safety considerations
- bandwidth issues
- implementing an Audio Tour
- Q&A Audio Tour demo feedback
- Q&A Needs Assessment from Environmental Educators
- ideas for future project development
Audio Tour workshop details and notes
overview of Audio Tour
- Cloud-based software service that supports uniquely addressed Audio Tour web pages, with each subscribing venue's Audio Tour on a dedicated web page
- Audio Tour is accessed by loading web page on smartphone or tablet browser, optionally disconnecting from Internet, then moving through the venue to hear a continuous custom-sequenced Audio Tour using device speaker or earbuds
- Visitors load the web page quickly and only ONCE before going on Audio Tour
- Visitors don't need Internet connectivity after downloading web page (can go to airplane mode)
- Cell plan data usage is minimal
- Audio Tour provides the experience of audio messages that are custom-delivered as visitor moves from one location and/or device orientation to another
- Delivered Audio Tour messages automatically create a customized personally-sequenced Audio Tour for any route taken by visitor
- Message audio is created using text-to-speech feature of the particular smartphone browser selected by visitor
- Messages are generated from text scripts that are easily added, deleted and updated by venue facilitator
- Audio Tour is generated using short text scripts that are each associated with a precise GPS latitude and longitude at the venue, and optionally a device orientation in degrees from north.
- Each message is triggered only within a prescribed radius of its designated GPS coordinates
- Each message optionally is set to trigger only when visitor's smartphone points in particular direction
- Messages are continually and automatically triggered as visitor moves from one location and/or device orientation to another
- Audio Tour messaging is initiated by button click by the user, and can be interrupted at the end of a sentence by user, and then resumed by user
- Messages don't repeat unless user requests replay or exits then returns to the message geolocation and/or device orientation
- Message scripts that are lengthy with multiple sentences can be fast-forwarded
- Audio Tour provides a customized visual map of venue with animated marker that continually indicates visitor's geolocation and device-pointing direction
- User's screen can include graphics and/or text tagged to geolocations, which dynamically can change as visitor moves
- A portfolio of Audio Tour themes can be scripted, with choice of theme continually selectable by visitor
- Multi-lingual capability can be scripted with the choice of language continually selectable by visitor
smartphone settings requirements
(check these if audio messages are NOT heard)
- settings, cellular, cellular data on, options, roaming ON
- settings, privacy, location services, ON
- settings, Safari, privacy, motion and orientation access, ON
- settings, Chrome, cellular data, ON
- settings, Chrome, location, while using app ON
- settings, Firefox, location, while using app ON
- on IPad: settings, General, Accessibility, Speech, voices set to on
short guided demo in Coach Barn area, with optional Turtle Lake Path
- short demo in Coach Barn area to accomodate anyone might want to also attend another workshop during this session
- longer self-guided demo along Turtle Lake Path, up to bridge between Heron Lake and Turtle Lake
history and motivation for Audio Tour project
How might this Audio Tour system possibly fit into the work of Environmental Educators guiding visitors in outdoor experiences? When visiting parks and zoos and institutes and gardens and museums, visitors are awed and dazzled under the tutelage of an Environmental Educator providing insightful commentary and guidance during exploration of the surrounding nearby reality. Visitors also appreciate having attention paid and feedback provided to their to their inquisitive reflections.
The visitor experience is sadly diminished when an expert guide is unavailable, and visitors must move somewhat blindly, questions unanswered, with a haunting feeling of missed insights.
The Audio Tour system provides Environmental Educators with contemporary media tools to effectively and efficiently capture their expertise, to enhance the unguided on-your-own visitor experience.
GPS navigation is a winning technology that is useful in so many situations. After experiencing Avenza for trail navigation, I tried coding a Google Maps overlay showing Long Branch NJ beach features, while using the Google Map's live geolocation capability. From this start, I spun off an automatic GPS directions launch web page, and the Audio Tour system. I also successfully cut the cord from Google Maps to independently geolocate on any map as part of the Audio Tour system. This facilitated an additional product for tracing artwork from a smartphone onto a much larger geographic area such as an ocean beach.
architecture of Audio Tour system
- An Audio Tour is not an app that must be downloaded and installed, but rather it is accessed as a web page on a web browser by typing the address in the address bar, or by clicking a link
- Audio Tour software cannot be installed on most websites, and definitely not if the web designer is using a website package such as Wordpress or Wix. Generally, Audio Tour must be hosted not on the subscriber's server, but rather on the separate Audio Tour cloud service website.
- The Audio Tour cloud service website resides on servers of an industrial-strength hosting service
- Dozens and even hundreds of separate Audio Tours can be accomodated on the Audio Tour cloud service domain nearbyreality.com due to low Internet traffic payload for each Audio Tour
- Geolocation and device orientation data is gathered from the user/visitor's smartphone or tablet
- Audio Tour system harnesses the power of the smartphone and the browser for computational processing of geolocation, device orientation and other criteria to choose messages and generate voice from text, and also to indicate the user’s location visually on a map
- Browser text-to-speech has become more natural-sounding, and the wide choice of voices available in the browser allows multi-lingual text-to-speech
- All browsers accomplish the required tasks in nearly identical ways due to standardization among browsers.
- A screenshot PNG of the venue's map is used, together with a scalable vector graphics (SVG) dynamic animated marker to visually indicate geolocation on map
- A database design is employed that stores script elements, each tagged with GPS coordinates, device orientation, annunciation radius, date/time, theme, language or other subscriber-chosen criteria
user/visitor privacy and safety considerations
- Audio Tour can operate hands-free
- Numerous criteria are available, in addition to geolocation, to customize a usefully targeted message to user at any point in their visit
- Has multi-lingual capability that can be scripted, at least in draft form, at low cost by non-language-experts
- Provides live visual indicator that constantly tracks user location on map
- Audio Tour cloud services system needs to access the smartphone or tablet’s geolocation and device orientation data. This data is used only locally on the user’s device, and is not shared with the server or anywhere. No personal identifying information is requested, collected, or stored by the Audio Tour software.
- Audio Tour website is secure, designated by https:// since all browsers require websites to be approved by a Certificate Authority and have an SSL certificate, before allowing the website to access geolocation and device orientation data that the smartphone or tablet can provide.
- The subscriber creating an Audio Tour must certify that the content will be appropriate and safe for each user/visitor who might access any scripted message from the content based on tagged criteria data.
It’s tempting, particularly if your budget is generous, to go out to professionals to record and produce elaborate audio tracks with nature sounds, music, and an engaging narrator’s voice, that might be used for Audio Tour website or app streaming. The demonstrated Audio Tour system herein actually does accomodate pre-recorded audio tracks.
So you may have a friend who can produce these tracks for you. But have you considered visitors who have metered and limited data plans, or might you be worried that cellular service is weak at your venue? Then let’s do the calculations. The Audio Tour system demoed here downloads to a smartphone about one megabyte of data when an Audio Tour page loads. After that, there is nothing else to download, and the visitor can actually go off the network, off-line, and the prior one megabyte download will keep the visitor busy for hours. By contrast, one megabyte of streaming audio lasts only about 25 seconds.
The low bandwidth of the browser-voiced Audio Tour is possible because its software design harnesses the increasing power of a smartphone processor and memory, and the evolving and growing power found in all browsers. The result is perhaps not an Emmy-award-winning performance, but is intelligible and has the unique advantages of potentially very large amounts of content that can be kept timely, can be easily updated, and can be selected with specificity to create each unique Audio Tour message.
implementing an Audio Tour
- subscription model for Audio Tour cloud service
- to create an Audio Tour, first contact firstname.lastname@example.org to become a subscriber, arrange payment, secure a nearbyreality.com webpage address, and facilitate data entry of your Audio Tour content
- subscriber provides map for screenshot
- subscriber creates scripts tagged with geolocation and device orientation data
- subscriber updates scripts as needed
- PLEASE NOTE: The user interface is not quite ready for subscribers to directly enter and update their Audio Tour content. For now, subscribers can capture location and device orientation data from https://nearbyreality.com/anjee using the device test page, then use a spreadsheet to compile their script and tagging information. Email this spreadsheet to email@example.com for uploading to your webpage.
- subscriber is solely responsible for subscriber content that is posted on the Audio Tour cloud service. The subscriber content consists of scripted messages tagged with GPS location, device orientation, annunciation radius, date/time, theme or other subscriber-chosen criteria data. Subscriber certifies that the content will be appropriate and safe for each user who might access any scripted message from the content based on its tagged criteria data.
- An Audio Tour subscriber is not required to have affiliation or association with the ownership or institutional structure of a venue. An Audio Tour for a venue can be implemented by any individual, since the airwaves and the Internet are free to all. Of course, intellectual property rights must be respected when generating content. Except where required by law, the validating, endorsing, selecting or rejecting of claims related to competing Audio Tours is not the responsibility of the Audio Tour cloud service.
Q&A Audio Tour demo feedback
- what worked and did not work
- suggestions for improvement
- suggestions for features
Q&A Needs Assessment from Environmental Educators
- What communications tools and techniques (website, map, signage, guides, docents, special stations, audio tours) work effectively or not at your venue, to create the desired visitor experience?
- How do you accommodate patrons with disabilities such as visual or hearing impairments? Or, visitors deficient in English language listening?
- What has been your experience with audio or other self guided tour systems? What are the benefits and what are the disadvantages for visitors and for the institution regarding the requirements and features of self-guided tour systems?
- Is the visitor quality of experience significantly different between professionally produced messages on a device, browser-generated voice, and an in-person expert guide?
- How important is visual information (map, pictures, graphics, captions and text) compared to spoken information, to enhance the visitor experience?
- Are there any unexpected implications and consequences of integrating GPS and smartphone to create an Audio Tour?
- Would your organization have the capability and resources to write your own scripts tagged to GPS location and other criteria, to create an Audio Tour for your venue? Or, would you require an outside contractor for these services?
- What themes, such as basic navigation, bike vs. walking, nature phenomena, history, poetry, spiritual, and science sensor use, might you want to include in an Audio Tour?
- Would your venue be interested and available for beta testing, including providing feedback, on this Audio Tour system?
- Would a monthly subscription model fit the budget for your organization?
ideas for future project development
- Gather feedback and insights from you, the subscriber, to turn on new features and capabilities within the Audio Tour software.
- Add a themes or channel button with choices such as navigation, history, flora, fauna, geology, poetic, spiritual, bike tour vs walking, science sensor use, create sand/landscape art from image
- Adjust messaging based on time of day or calendar date, or other specific conditions such as schedules or availability of particular facilities or equipment or staff.
- Aas previewed on the Audio Tour start-up page, provide total multi-lingual capability throughout the Audio Tour.
- Give subscribers access to data entry and editing of script messages and associated tags for geolocation, device orientation and other subscriber-chosen criteria.
- Add user/visitor convenience buttons, including reverse and forward skip to go to the start of the current sentence again, or the previous sentence, or the next sentence; this would be useful for repeating part of a lengthy message or skipping ahead in the message
- Get user/visitor feedback to decide how to handle the repeating, or not, of already played messages
- Add a message tagged to a very wide annunciation radius so that any visitor accessing the Audio Tour will get a message from outside the tour area, and not just inside
- Refine the business model for Audio Tour cloud service to emulate other cloud-based software systems, which are typically subscription-based, often monthly with no long-term commitment; consider the additional start up costs of installing a screenshot of a venue’s map and geolocating it, along with system training as needed for subscribers to create and update their criteria-tagged script messages.