Further Musings on AirPod Nation

In my last post, I talked about “transhumanism” and a time when most people will have access to AirPod-type devices — either in their ears for hours on end or within easy reach. Industry insiders who follow technology trends predict this will happen sooner rather than later. With that in mind, I did some brainstorming on how this could benefit arts organizations and their patrons, looking at several different art forms.

Symphony concerts: It has long been the practice of orchestras to offer live pre-concert lectures to supplement the standard program notes. Imagine if there was a simple and easy way to listen to a five-minute talk by the conductor right from your seat before the concert starts. Think of it as a sort of location-specific mini-podcast.  

Theatre: This is similar to the idea above, but in this case, it would be a post-theatre podcast that patrons can listen to on the subway or in their car with interviews with the cast and/or playwright or director. The content would be delivered to your phone as you leave the theatre. 

Dance: Despite going to dance events for years, I’m never completely sure I understand what’s going on in those works that have a narrative. People see things that they tell me later are completely obvious — and I simply miss them. What I would love is someone whispering in my ear doing a type of “play by play” of the general themes of the ballet. And since it’s in my ears, it won’t bother anyone else. 

Museums: This is the most obvious example since it’s been happening for decades. In the past, museums would rent the hardware (i.e., the familiar Acoustiguide) and inside that physical device is the audio information. In a world where practically everyone has the hardware in their ear, museums can now simply sell the audio program or bundle it in with membership.  Also in big museums, imagine how helpful it would be to use AirPods for navigation — “Hey Siri, how do I get to the impressionist exhibits?” — and have those directions spoken to you as you navigate through the museum. 

Most of what I’ve described above is completely doable now. There’s not a lot of new technology needed to accomplish what I describe above, and people are buying these devices by the tens of millions. And these are simply a few quick ideas I’ve come up with. I’m sure you can come up with more interesting ideas! It’s really just a matter of whether you want your organization to be ahead of the curve or behind it.

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