Lab Day at Axonista — Creating an interactive video travel quiz app…in just one day!

Our interactive quiz app — Sphinx in play.

Lab days at Axonista are really important for our company. As well as being a great fun way to bring our R&D to life, lab days are an opportunity for team members to collaborate outside of normal company activities. It allows for everyone to work together on a project for one entire day.

Previous lab days at Axonista included working on live TV playout, team flags, and hacking the future of TV.

The challenge set out for this lab day was to create an interactive quiz app, using our interactive video CMS, Ediflo, to power it.

It is hard not to notice the impact the trivia app, HQ, has had in recent months. At peak times, it boasts 2 million participants! We are big fans of the HQ quiz show format which has us all very excited about the future of interactive video.

We all huddled together during the week to pre plan the lab day, and decided to focus on the theme of travel. We represent 8 countries at Axonista including Ireland, France, America, Portugal, Croatia, India, Italy and Ukraine.

We decided to call the app Sphinx.

You may be wondering about the rationale behind the name. “The Sphinx is said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes, asking a riddle to travellers to allow them passage”. A fitting name for a travel quiz app.

Thomas working on the Sphinx animations

There were various roles for all, these included:

Quiz gameplay design, app design, branding, motion graphics, sound editing, set design, app development, costume, hair & make up, script, running order, lighting, photography, live stream wrangling, app direction, show production, show running and even a fully working teleprompter.

Jenny made Stephen (the seagull) in a matter of minutes. Jace loved him.

Designing Sphinx

Our design team worked hard on creating the logo, user experience, and design. Although the trivia and game show format has been around since the mid 20th century, until HQ it hasn’t really ‘arrived’ on mobile devices.

All the pieces are in place; the technology, the distribution, and the means of production. Culturally, the timeboxed bursts of highly interactive content are a refreshing contrast to the ever-growing monotony of scrolling a feed.

However, the ‘traditional’ screen-based design workflow doesn’t apply very well to richly interactive video apps like this. The dynamic mix of video, audio, data and contextual UI is challenging to communicate using static images. Especially in this case, since the content is based entirely on a live stream. Our designers were largely working with a blank canvas, so they needed close collaboration between everyone involved in the production and a crystal clear idea of the show’s format.

A timelapse of our design team working on the app

Our developers worked beyond their limits throughout the day and evening to create the app. Key challenges that arose included stream latency, working together to get the apps live in a day and recording a live show that we could all play along with.

The Sphinx app had six questions, starting with easy questions like “The Channel Tunnel links England with which European country?” (spoiler — the answer was France).

Then came the savage question, which left only one person left to claim the prize.
The prize was the biggest slice of Axonista’s 8th Birthday cake.

Key learnings and technical difficulties:

When deciding to make an interactive quiz app we knew latency was an important factor in the production of the quiz’s live stream app.

Latency is the delay in a stream due to the transfer and conversion of data.We had to work on reducing the latency from 30 seconds down to only 10 seconds before we could accurately time our quiz host asking questions and providing answers, as well as timing motion graphics, along with the live stream appearing in the app.

A solution we found was to have our awesome host Jace talking during these periods of latency which made the user experience of the quiz better. It was important to have the teleprompter synced with latency delay, so the host was aware of when to ask questions or talk.

Having worked on this app format ourselves we have even more respect for apps like HQ who are able to do this several times a day.

The scale of delivering interactive video content to a live audience is not an easy feat but evidently our team is more than capable of doing.

End Result

This was one of our most demanding and enjoyable lab days at Axonista to date.

We made our own interactive TV show from start to finish and it was a fantastic show as well as being huge fun to work on. It involved a close collaboration from our design team, developers, product team, and many more skills that we did not even know we had.

A big shoutout goes to Jace from our customer The QYou who joined us to be our host and was a bundle of energy when we all needed it.

Cast and crew:

Claire, Daragh, Dee, Luke, Colin, Craig, Claudine, Owen, Thomas, Piaras, Lorna, Kristijan, Jenny, Ian, Dmitry, Francesco, Sandra, Rashmi, Marko, Michael, Marco, Julien, David, Dave, Andrew, Stephen Seagull.

Talk to us about how Axonista helps global brands increase engagement through interactive video on OTT and mobile devices.

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