While the BBC might be best known (at least, in America) for the creation of popular shows like Doctor Who, Broadchurch and Luther, they've also been known to create radio dramas on a regular basis. It's a storytelling medium which doesn't seem to lend itself much to technological innovation... at least, if you're anybody but the BBC.
Today, the broadcaster's Research & Development branch unveiled a project they're particularly excited about: an "interactive comedy science fiction audio drama" designed for Alexa and Google Home smart speakers called "The Inspection Chamber."
If you're wondering what an interactive audio drama is, the best comparison one could draw would be to compare this storytelling format to what you'd see in a classic choose-your-own-adventure novel... except, in audio form.
Indeed, according to the BBC, that's exactly what they're aiming for: short chunks of story followed by a decision of some sort on the player's (listener's?) part. Fortunately, there won't be any frantic page-flipping here.
The key difference between the two formats is that while choose-your-own-adventure books take you out of the story to consider your decisions, an interactive audio drama will allow you to play an active role in the tale. The broadcaster hopes this will create a sense of genuine interaction with other characters in the story.
In addition to simply looking at what existing audio dramas have done well, the BBC has also pulled a great deal of inspiration from games like The Stanley Parable and Papa Sangre (an audio-only horror game). This can only be a good thing given the positive reception of both titles.
The Inspection Chamber is being developed in partnership with Rosina Sound, an agency that works on various audio-based projects.
The BBC will be launching this project on Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices to start with, but the company has plans to make it compatible with Apple's HomePod and Microsoft's Invoke speaker in the future.
A specific release date for this project hasn't been announced but you can expect the pilot episode to launch via BBC Taster by the end of 2017. If you can't wait that long, you can listen to a short excerpt of the story in the official project announcement.