Poems in the Air.

What we did:

Design, Marketing, Print, Web Design & Development, WordPress

Poems in the Air is a mobile app we developed in collaboration with Northumberland National Park and the poet Simon Armitage.

The project stemmed from an idea by Simon to create poetry about a place that could only be experienced in that place. Giving users the opportunity to experience exactly what he experienced.

Simon spent a lot of time in Northumberland National Park in 2015 and 2016, choosing six lesser-known, unique locations to write about. We then designed and built an app that provides a means for people to ‘find’ and listen to the poems via engaging location-based guided walks.

Visit the website here:

Download the app on the App Store and Google Play

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The challenge

With such spectacular surroundings, we wanted our app to enhance the experience of a user’s visit to the park, rather than the app being the experience. The app needed to be subtle, seamless and most of all easy to use.

Northumberland National Park contains some of the most remote areas in the country and mobile coverage is almost non-existent. To provide an immersive experience to our users whilst not leaving any physical footprint on the ground presented a big challenge.

We needed to know where users are and we had to deliver dynamic map content. We needed accurate enough location information to ensure that poems were only available at the exact spot they were written about.

This all provided an additional challenge without mobile reception, which was the case at most of the proposed sites.

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What we did

Our first task on the project was to create a fully functional proof of concept. We initially did this for locations within Newcastle which had good mobile coverage.

Next we moved onto testing the concept in possible poem locations out in the park and identified the significant challenges we faced in providing the right content to users at the right time with no mobile coverage.

Spending a lot of time out in the park testing and researching locations led us to utilise offline mapping and a bespoke geofence implementation, which we coded from the ground up. This allowed us to provide a fail-safe way of showing users their location with GPRS and accurately knowing the right time to activate a poem.

To support the launch of the app we created a brand and a website as well as brochures and postcards that can be found in tourism offices and visitor centres throughout the North East.

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What the client said

“We worked with TAC in creating our first application for Northumberland National Park. Not only were immediately struck by their initial designs but their willingness to help us develop the best user experience for our audience.”

“We presented TAC with a challenging brief to create a unique GPS driven application that would work in remote areas of the National Park. It was imperative that that application would appeal to seasoned walkers and people new to the area alike; we were thrilled with the results.”

“TAC were not only open to suggestions about the application but also responsive with their technical expertise to ensure functionality on both iOS and Android platforms.”

Andrew Mitchell – Web and Social Media Officer, Northumberland National Park

“I’m very interested in trying to find ways of putting poems in the landscape and bringing people to them but without actual intrusions into the landscape. I had this idea that it might be possible to write a group of poems that could only be activated through technology and brought, via readings, to your phone.

“It works! You’ll get what I hope will feel like a personal reading of a poem that exists as spoken words.”

Simon Armitage – Poet

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The future

The launch of Poems in the Air in late Summer of 2016 is seen by Northumberland National Park and ourselves as the beginning of the project rather than the end.

Next year the park’s showpiece landscape discovery centre, The Sill, opens and Poems in the Air will have a permanent exhibition within it.

The app will remain in active development for four years and after an positive reception to the initial launch, a second major release on the horizon for early 2017.