The Main Idea

idea

We were looking for a way to enhance and add value to the Old Appian Way. Creating a virtual reality application would have been impossible due to the large extension of the area, spread along about five miles of the ancient road. Moreover, we wanted to tell fascinating stories to visitors and tourists, rather than just showing empty, mute spaces in 3D computer graphics.

We therefore decided to use the voice, because it is the easiest and most immediate way to tell stories. But we wanted to bring these stories directly to visitors' smartphones, precisely where they could be accessed and enjoyed most conveniently.

Since the position of smartphones can always be detected, it is possible for us to know the exact location of the visitors. And as a result, we can instantly send them the right audio stories to tell them about what they are seeing at that moment.

These stories are designed to be heard on visitors' headphones while walking along the Appian Way and admiring the magnificent surroundings dotted with archaeological sites. One can listen to the stories while sitting or standing in a particular place of interest, perhaps even with one's eyes closed, and then re-opening them to see the monuments in a totally different way, having gained a new vision of the archaeological sites thanks to Verba's words and soundscapes.
But this dynamic and original experience of history should also be more enduring.

Consequently, we decided to add the audio-social network section, allowing visitors to leave messages to everybody, to the members of their group, or even just to themselves as a personal memory.



Why Audio-Only?

audio-only

We work on audio stories that are designed to reach visitors in the easiest and most intuitive way possible. And for us humans, the best way to communicate is through verbal language. Unfortunately, computer science has several drawbacks including the need to type on keyboards. Only recently have some companies realised that the human voice is capable of giving commands in naturally spoken language, and without any specific computer training. So now you can stop tapping on the keyboard! Apple with Siri and Windows with Cortana, along with several other systems, are implementing the human voice as an input control. So why should Verba be left out in fully implementing our voices?



Stories

stories

Our lives are immersed and intertwined with stories. What we learn are stories, and they form the basis of our knowledge of the world. Even our personal life-projects are like stories that we tell ourselves every day when we wake up. In order to appreciate the magnificent history of our origins, and understand the last remaining traces of it, we need a story. Indeed, archaeological sites are of very limited interest if we are unaware of their relevance and past.

But who tells these stories to the general public made up of visitors, tourists and even researchers and professors? On one hand there is Verba, but on the other there is also you.

Verba will send you a playlist when it detects that you are near a Point of Interest. And you, the visitor, can also leave your comment with Verba wherever you please within the area covered by the application.

Contribute by leaving your story in Verba's social network. You could tell us something special that we might never have known.
Leave your story and feelings addressed to your friends, relatives and colleagues. Or even just to yourself.
You will always find those messages in the same place, even years after.

And all of this is VERBA.



Info Brief

Besides the stories, there are also technical data briefs containing information and curiosities regarding the monuments and archaeological sites. To hear these summaries, play the audio files labelled as "briefs" on the VERBA playlist.



The Compass

How do you know where to find the stories as you walk along the Old Appian Way? Simple: just check the compass.
On the round moving compass rose, you will find pins showing the relative positions of the Point Of Interest (POI) near you. Wait and look: each pin will change colour as it is highlighted, and its name and distance will appear immediately under the compass rose. Positions and distances are shown relative to your current location. You will reach the selected POI in a few steps as you move in the direction indicated on the compass.



The Music

piano

Gianfranco Plenizio has composed a series of wonderful musical scores that provide a dynamic accompaniment to the spoken stories.

We consider this musical layer to be the second key component of our audio files. Don’t just listen to the words, but let your mind run free in the realm of the imagination, where music and words are mixed together to offer you a new kind of story-telling experience.

And coming soon, with the power of new 3D audio chipsets, you will be able to localise sound sources in your vicinity...



Our Cloud

The contents of Verba are stored on a cloud.

In this way, audio files, information and group participation can easily be delivered to thousands of users at the same time, without any issues regarding the number of visitors or their position.

Verba uses the new Microsoft Azure™ cloud system, which can dynamically configure itself to instantly cope with all customer needs in the easiest possible way.




How-to use Verba

It’s easy.
And it’s mainly up to you.

You can decide the interface language.
You can decide to subscribe and fully interact, or instead just enter as an anonymous user.

As an anonymous user, you can hear the stories that Verba will send you when you are in the immediate vicinity of a monument.
As a signed-in subscriber, you can also leave your own messages, join groups and see the position of other group members, as well as access and hear your messages and stories from home thanks to the social web experience. To record your own message, just tap the red button in the dictation section of the app, listen back to your words to check your comment, then upload it to the cloud and choose your targets, in other words who can hear your thoughts: Verba’s entire public (everybody), the members of your group (limited to your friends), or even just yourself (as a personal recollection). The message will be stored with your username and geographical coordinates, so that you, and your selected targets, will always be able to find it in the same location. Forever.