Audience voting and participation with smartphones
I've often wondered if there are enough people with smartphones in a specific audience to be a useful means to provide audience feedback. I was asked to speak at the recent dorkbot anglia and I took an opportunity to create an application that might test this hypothesis.
I thought I'd start with something simple: smartphone users would select a colour from a range of colours using their touch screens, and the corresponding square for their seat would light up on the screen. This would allow me to ask the audience questions that could be expressed in terms of colour.
The process starts with individual QR codes attached to each seat: these are 2D barcodes that can be interpreted by reading software on smartphones, and converted into web site addresses. Each QR code resolves to a different web address.
When you load the page at the address, a grid is served which contains coloured squares. Selecting a square will communicate that colour to the server, which is running on the internet
The laptop running the projector at the front of the room has a page that shows the currently selected colour for each seat
So what have I learnt from this trial?
- It shows that you don't need apps for this kind of application. Indeed, apps would be difficult to implement, as you would need a different app for every kind of phone that you might anticipate, and exclude phones that had browsers, but no app engine.
- This audience was pretty tech savvy: I'd say that around 70% of the audience had a suitable phone, but it shows that a usable proportion of people may have an appropriate phone in many situations (although you couldn't use it where you wanted instant feedback from every member of the audience)
Where do I move from here?
If you are planning an audience participation project, feel free to contact me at the email link in the sidebar.
Photographs courtesy of Ross Scrivener