BBC debuts interactive audio drama for Amazon Alexa

Audio companies of all stripes have been hopping on the bandwagon of smart speakers. The BBC is the latest to take advantage of the new technology in a more unique way. The broadcaster has created an interactive audio drama where listeners can influence the end result of their story. The piece, titled The Inspection Chamber, debuted as an Amazon Alexa skill in the UK this week. It is slated to launch in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

This project takes its inspiration from interactive fiction and story-driven video games where players can revisit the same initial premise but make different choices to create an entirely different outcome on each playthrough. Listeners engaging with The Inspection Chamber will need to answer questions from the program within a few days to progress the narrative. A representative from the BBC said that the team would continue working with this story engine on Alexa and planned to announce additional developments soon.

“We’re trying to make something that sits between the two: the rich audio storytelling of a radio drama, and the feeling of participation that you get from a game,” Henry Cooke, senior producer for BBC Research & Development, told The Verge about the project.

This idea is an example of the kind of immersive audio programming that smart speakers could offer. Even though Cooke described The Inspection Chamber as an experiment, it’s a concept that could continue to grow and create new sub-genres for interactive audio storytelling.

Anna Washenko