Extending the narrative — Bringing entertainment into our trusted space

Aug 3, 2017 · 5 min read

Recently, Chirp’s Chief Solutions Architect, Adam Howard, was invited to Unbound London to share his thoughts on how content producers must start providing experiences pre, post and during traditional broadcast content. Here, we capture some of these and share Chirp’s role in enabling Beat Bugs toys to interact with the Emmy-award winning Netflix TV series in a revolutionary way that children and their parents will find totally enchanting.

The evolution of storytelling

Humans have been storytelling for over 65,000 years. From the days of sitting around campfires telling stories, singing songs, acting and passing down law to the present day stories that we tell each other about our lives and the lives of others through broadcast media and digital platforms.

Storytelling is in our DNA. Last century we invented the Wireless, and then the Television. Our living rooms became the place to passively consume entertainment. Indeed, the antenna was crucial to shaping our understanding of what was happening in the world around us.

Today, as we have moved through traditional radio and television broadcasts to the second screen and multiple screens which we use to consume different types of content, it is easy to argue that our experience of media is fragmented even isolating ourselves from those with whom we share our space.

Conversely however, it is also easy to argue that we are now no more separated than we were when we were all passively watching the same broadcast. In fact, we are starting to see a pattern of more active consumption emerge — the choice is no longer simply what programme we watch but how to affect the programme itself.

Puss in boots, trapped in an epic tale

Whilst the concept of choosing our own adventure has been around since storytelling began, the technology is now better than ever at delivering, for example we are now able to affect the narrative of shows such Puss in Boots on Netflix.

Going a step further, Oats Studios have released a series of 20-minute films which take us on trips through alternate realities on YouTube, polling audiences on which of these short films should be made into a full feature film with the final goal of using funding from fans to put the chosen story into production.

Now that the technology has indeed caught up, we see more activity in this space already occurring. Interactive game shows allow audiences to actively engaging through applications and Hue lights can be integrated with 3rd party apps to automatically change the lighting in our rooms to complement the mood of the broadcast entertainment we are consuming.

Now, Chirp are proud to be part of the team that have enabled physical toys to interact with our entertainment, whilst remaining completely offline. Beat Bugs, the Emmy award winning series on Netflix explores the narrative of songs made famous by the Beatles and is accompanied by Hijinx Alive™ powered by Chirp™ interactive toys which sing along with the show, the Beat BugsTM Alive App and with each other.

The Beat Bugs toys, which run on the low powered ARM Cortex M4 chip recognise portions of the show’s audio which triggers a select action for the toy — in this case, singing in sync with the songs on the show.

Chirp are the only players in the data-over-sound space to offer the capability to embed this technology on low powered chips and we proudly add it to our range of interoperable SDKs, allowing Chirp to move beyond simply providing the facility to transmit information between smartphones and smart devices.

Removing the need for connectivity in the traditional sense of course mitigates the genuine concern for parents in regards to hackers invading our family’s trusted space.

All the Beat Bugs are doing in this case are providing a very natural interaction for kids to enjoy. The child doesn’t feel like he is is in control of the Beat Bugs — they feels like friends, rather than ‘things’ the child feels they need to command.

At Chirp, we believe that as we continue to develop things that come into our trusted physical space, Content Creators, Brand Managers, Marketeers, Special Effects teams, Toy Manufacturers and many more players are going to need to think about narrative in a 360° way because the opportunity for entertainment to interact with us in our physical space is vast. People fall in love with ‘things’ in our physical space far more than we fall in love with what is on screen. For kids in particular, an item in their physical space that is multi-sensory can help them to understand the narrative and immerse them into the story. We must start thinking about providing experiences pre, post and during our traditional content broadcasts, as well as providing experiences in virtual and physical environments. Bringing the entertainment experience into our physical space is not a new concept, but Chirp’s technology makes it a lot simpler to implement at a cost price that can take bring it into a lot more families living rooms.

We are now also seeing voice assistants playing an increasingly powerful role in the home as a trusted part of the family. And with this we are moving even closer towards storytelling coming full circle. Whilst we used to sit around a campfire telling stories, jokes, passing law, singing and having fun, we are now moving towards sitting around voice assistants, using these as an enable and facilitator of storytelling.

Chirp’s technology enables voice assistants to interact with the physical ‘things’ around us, for example, toys, or digital applications in the living room environment. The narrative has moved beyond linear, with endless possibilities to create a fluid, interactive experience in the home.

Catch Adam’s full talk at Unbound here:

To learn more about Chirp and how we work with our clients to build connectivity and communications solutions, get in touch through www.chirp.io/contact


Written by the team at Chirp, the world's most trusted data-over-sound technology used by the leading brands in over 90 countries. Find out more at www.chirp.io


Written by


Chirp is the world’s most trusted data-over-sound technology, used by the leading brands in over 90 countries.



Written by the team at Chirp, the world's most trusted data-over-sound technology used by the leading brands in over 90 countries. Find out more at www.chirp.io