Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

Delivering your goals, to your visitors, within your budget.

Archive for Audio Tour Hardware

Q Media in Rome!

We realize we haven’t updated our blog since September.  Many things have happened since then and we’d like to share with you what they have been and what we’ve been up to.

First off October 2011 found Mike and Stasha attending the Orpheo Partners Meeting in Rome, Italy. Q Media is an Orpheo partner and every two years Orpheo invites their partners from around the world to attend a meeting to catch up on what’s new with Orpheo and each other. This year’s meeting in Rome had attendees from Italy, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, France, Austria, Japan, Malta, Poland, Sardinia, Greece and Portugal. It was great to see folks we hadn’t seen in a few years and hear what other members of the Orpheo Network are doing with audio tours in their countries.  One great aspect of being an Orpheo Partner is that we are involved with a world-wide network of skilled, experienced audio tour producers and our combined strengths allow us all to prosper by assisting each other.  When you hire Q Media you don’t just get a team of award-winning audio tour producers with 10 years experience producing tours: you also get the benefit of many others who assist us in many ways in producing and equipping audio tours.

Besides the experience of traveling to Europe and seeing our partner members we also found out what Orpheo has been up to with developing their equipment. One of the exciting new things we learned about was the MyOrpheo App for both iPhone and Android. We’re now adding that as an option for our clients.

As for Q Media projects the end of last year and the beginning of this one have been busy times for us. We completed the audio tour pilot program for apartment rental industry leader Aimco and Q Media produced tours are now operating at apartment complexes in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Also a project for The Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, FL is soon to be launched. This project was written and produced by Q Media and is being offered on iPhones that will be GPS triggered. One of the exciting aspects about this tour is that the visitor will always be immersed into a sonic environment and the audio tour stops will trigger automatically as they wander the grounds. A new, novel approach for tours and we’re really excited to be a part of this new application of technology.  But it isn’t all ‘sets and lights’.  The Kingsley Plantation allowed us to tell a story of slavery in the American South that is compelling, moving and novel.  We’re really proud of this one and the telling of the Kingsley story allowed us to touch upon greater human themes.  There are some wonderful performances from character actors in the production that really help to bring a sense of the people who lived there to the listener to allow them to imagine what life at Kingsley was like for them.

We’ve also been busy continuing to produce visually described audio tours for the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.  More Q Media visually described tours are now operational at facilities in Wyoming, New Mexico, New York City and Missouri.

This winter also had us updating the MillerCoors Brewery tour in Golden, CO in English, Spanish and Mandarin.  MillerCoors likes to be sure that they are staying current in their tour with developments and improvements to their facility and products and Q Media is happy to be a part of making the audio tour at the largest single site brewery in the world the best it can be.

For other repeat clients we’re busy this Spring producing the audio tour for Mt. Rushmore into French to be launched and we’re also working again with Friends of A1A to add another component to their cell phone driving tour with a tour of Bird Island in Ponte Vedra, FL

Lastly there’s BIG news coming from Q Media and we’ll need to let you know about that in another post dedicated to it.  We promise we won’t make you wait as long as it took up to update our blog from our last post in September and we’re REALLY excited about it.

Until then!

Mike and Stasha

Advertisements

Audio Tours for the Visually Impaired

Institutions are using audio guides to comply with government mandated ADA requirements to provide interpretation of their information for all visitors.  Recently Q Media has been producing audio tours to allow some US Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service facilities meet their ADA requirements by providing visually described audio tours of their facilities.

Visually described audio tours are just that – an audio tour where the script is written to describe what is there for the visitor to experience and to also provide directions and other information that the sighted world sees and they may not.  Visually impaired individuals better experience a facility with these types of productions and they also allow a facility meet ADA requirements by providing interpretive experiences that are produced to directly serve their needs.

Stasha Boyd – Q Media’s president, primary writer and producer – is certified to write visually described tours and she has been using her skills, in combination with Q Media’s  award-winning production capabilities, to create meaningful audio experiences for visually impaired visitors.  When we produce a visually described tour we usually produce two tours –  one for sighted visitors and a visually described tour.  This way both sighted and visually impaired visitors get to experience a facility with audio and both tours incorporate high production standards to create a rich sonic experience for the listener.  We go on site to gather research, interview subject matter experts and record natural sounds that are specific to the location.  We produce tours that accomplish what a facility wants to convey so all of its visitors, sighted and visually impaired, will have the opportunity to experience the interpretation that leadership desires.

One visually described audio tour that Q Media recently produced was for the visitor center at The Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in Coleharbor, ND.  According to Jackie Jacobson, Director of Audubon It has been a pleasure to work with you… seriously, it was so nice to work with professionals on this task, as I had never used or seen one of these devices before. Thank you for all your patience! In working with clients Q Media strives to make sure that all facets of a production are equally cared for and that includes extensive communication with decision makers.  Many times they’ve never been involved in producing an audio tour and we pride ourselves in effectively communicating what it is that we do so everyone is aware of our process and how we achieve their goals.

Look for many more productions this year from Q Media producing visually described audio tours.  If you are a facility that is required to meet these ADA requirements, or cares to serve this facet of your visitors, please contact us so we can produce and equip a visually described tour for your location.

Q Tours – Q Media’s new iPhone app

Q Media is proud to announce our new iPhone application for Audio Tours Q Tours.   As you probably already know, the mobile device revolution is changing the way we interact with our world;  and now Q Media offers our clients this new technology option.

If you’ve read our blog posts, you know we always say an audio tour has two components — what you’re listening to (the content) and how you’re listening to it (the delivery method).  In the past, the technology standard for audio tours has been audio guides.  These dedicated audio tour devices have many great features and are still an outstanding option for facilities who want to offer a point-of-purchase revenue generating tour or who need advanced features like infrared, GPS, or radio frequency triggering (especially to provide devices for ADA compliance) and quality audio fidelity. However, the expense, staffing, and maintenance required for these devices can be a hindrance for some organizations.

Recently, cell phone distribution has become a popular way for organizations to offer tours. Some of the benefits of this distribution is that a facility no longer needs to invest in dedicated hardware like audio guides nor the maintenance they require.  But setup and monthly service fees to cell phone tour providers can become expensive (especially for large volume tours) and there are still issues at some locations with reception and visitors not wanting to use their minutes to listen to a tour.  Also because cell phones operate at limited sonic bandwidth the audio quality suffers from compression.  Furthermore, in most instances, cell phone tours are often only offered as value added (free to the visitor) tours and not as revenue generating enterprises.

Which leads us to the Q Tours iPhone tour and its many benefits. First, the visitor brings their technology with them so there isn’t any dedicated hardware to purchase and maintain.   Second, pictures and text can be displayed as well as maps to help visitors find their way.  Third, quality audio production can be incorporated into the tour allowing a richer sensory experience than other devices.  Fourth the tour is available to the public 24/7 without the need to have a localized distribution point – visitors can access the tour from any location at your facility as long as cell service or wi-fi is available or download it beforehand.    However, the main benefit is revenue. An iPhone tour can be sold to the public to generate revenue. This technology and distribution method combines all of the best features of audio guides and cell phones by offering a potential revenue stream combined with decreased upfront technology investment.

So how does a  Q Tour generate revenue for the facility?   If your facility qualifies with enough annual attendance Q Media will produce a tour, or host your current tour, as a revenue share Q Tour.*  Once the visitor purchases the tour through our Q Tours iPhone app (either through cell  service or wifi) the revenue is split between Apple, us and you.  Many of you reading this are aware of the way Apple sells applications for the iPhone from its App store — the App is offered via iTunes and a percentage is paid to Apple with the remaining percentage distributed between Q Media and the facility.  The visitor accesses the tour through their iPhone (or iPod Touch) and you receive a percentage of every sale with no equipment to purchase, no staffing required to distribute and collect hardware, no hosting fees or other middle-men costs.  It’s that simple. All we require is that the promotion and marketing of the tour is handled by you to your visitors at your location so they are aware the tour is available.

So look for our Q Tours app to soon be available on Apple’s iPhone App Store.  We are ready create outstanding tours for your guests while reaping the benefits of generating revenue that audio tours traditionally provide.  To find out more on how we can produce and host a Q Tour for you please contact Stasha Boyd or Mike Lutz at Q Media.

*For qualified facilities only.

Q Media GPS GeoTours

CB052369

August 23, 2009 – Q Media has launched a new service offering downloadable GPS audio tours for GPS devices.  GPS devices are becoming a great way for outdoor facilities large and small to offer audio tours to their visitors.  Up to now most choices to provide a GPS tour were based on purchasing expensive hardware that also needed to be distributed to your visitors as well as maintained.  But now with a Q Media GeoTour there’s no need to purchase, distribute or maintain any GPS audio tour equipment to provide a GPS tour:  Visitors download the tour into their own GPS devices such as Garmin or Tom-Tom and then use them to experience the tour.  The tours can also be downloaded to an Ipod or mp3 player, can include pictures and video and be made available for sale too.

“This is a great way for our clients to take advantage of emerging technologies,” said Mike Lutz Vice-President and Technical Director at Q Media. “There are many outdoor locations where traditional audio guide hardware or cell phones aren’t an option because of distribution issues or cell reception.  A Q Media GeoTour can now allow for tours where before it wasn’t easily viable to do so.  Outdoor parks, driving tours, city walking tours – any type of tour that takes place outdoors at the visitor’s own choosing and pace – can all easily be made into a Q Media GeoTour”. 

So for example, let us say Q Media is hired to produce a walking tour of New York City’s Theater District.  After the content for the tour is produced, Q Media would provide the outlet for the tour to the public as a Q Media GeoTour on its website and the visitor would only need to choose the device they want for the download to operate on.  No equipment is necessary for the visitor to sign out and return and the tour stops play automatically when the visitor reaches the programmed GPS waypoints.  

To see an example of a Q Media GeoTour please go to the GPS Tours page on the Q Media website and scroll down to the bottom to see the Q Media produced “Kansas Wetlands and Wildlife” driving tour of Barton County, KS.  In the example there you can read a summary of the tour, see a map of the route, preview the audio files and download the tour into a chosen device (with instructions).  Visitors can also rate the tour and leave comments.

If you have been interested in producing and distributing a GPS based audio tour the time has arrived!  Prices to host a Q Media GeoTour tour start at $89/month for non-Q Media clients and the service is free for any Q Media production client who wishes to have it.  For more information on how Q Media can produce and provide a GPS Audio Tour GeoTour for you please contact Stasha Boyd of Q Media Productions at stasha@qmediaproductions.com.

Q Media to provide new audio tour equipment for Kennedy Space Center

NASA LogoJuly 16 2009 – Q Media is proud to announce that they have been contracted to update the audio tour equipment at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Kennedy Space Center, FL. The KSC Visitor’s Center originally had an audio tour installed in 1998 utilizing JVC audio guides. However, time has taken its toll on these players which are no longer supported by JVC and the number of players available to the public has been in sharp decline over the last few years. Q Media is providing Orpheo Classic audio guides to KSC along with the current tour content so once again visitors can enjoy the information previously developed.

The tour will be available to the public in 7 languages–English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Q Media is also incorporating Infrared triggering of the Orpheo audio guides for some of KSC’s interactive exhibits.

Orpheo system engineers Antoine Eisenstein and Sylvain Plaetevoet will also be on-hand during the installation to assist Q Media Technical Director Mike Lutz. The new tour hardware also includes Orpheo Desk Manager which allows KSC’s staff to expedite audio guide operations and visitor registraion without the need to hold personal identification.

The tour will once again be available to the public on August 1, 2009.  For more information about Q Media and their project for the Kennedy Space Center Vistor’s Complex please contact Mike Lutz at Q Media at mike@qmediaproductions.com.

WebTour Audio Tours — By Mike Lutz

IphoneIn recent years audio tours on cell phones have become very popular and whether cell phones are chosen for ease of maintenance, or to meet unique operational challenges, they are meeting the needs of many institutions for their audio tour distribution.

Also in recent years there has been more desire by consumers on what they want their mobile devices to do. One of the fastest developing trends is to have access to the internet through mobile devices and new technology like the Apple IPhone is an example of what is possible in realizing how the cell phone has evolved beyond being just a platform for voice communication.  Also internet plans for mobile devices are becoming less expensive as more competitors enter the marketplace allowing people to utilize their mobile devices for many functions beyond communication like game-playing, music downloading and video watching among thousands of other uses.  

This latest development offers a new way to have an audio tour for visitors for less cost.  How?  Well if you are currently paying a cell phone audio tour provider to host your audio tour then in the near future you won’t have to as more people have internet-capable devices:  there won’t be the need to pay for a service to host audio tours for cell phones because your visitors will access your tour directly from your website .  I’m calling these new types of audio tours WebTour Audio Tours and you can learn more about them at our website www.qmediaproductions.com/cellphone.htm

As technology changes and improves rapidly how you hear a tour is still only half of the equation–the other of course is what you are listening to.  Q Media is an award-winning production company that is committed to producing excellent audio tour content no matter how it is heard.  We pride ourselves in being able to exceed the message needs of our clients no matter what distribution platform they require whether it is traditional audio guides, cell phones, Ipods, downloadable tours and now WebTours.  Please contact QMedia if you are considering an audio tour or planning to upgrade your current one to find out more about what we can produce, equip or program for your tour.

Audio guides in an iPod world. Are they still relevant?

“Audio guides are dead. Passe. Old news. Too expensive. Too creatively restrictive. Too… too…  yesterday.”
Fantasy of Flight; a unique experience!

Fantasy of Flight; a unique experience!

RUBBISH!

Before I start a non-professional rant, let me make a couple of clear points:

First, audio guides and audio tours are not the same thing. An “audio guide” is a device, an “audio tour” is an experience. You can experience an outstanding audio tour on a number of different devices — e.g. audio guides, cell phones, iPods, pdas — which may or may not have been designed and developed as a way strictly to present an audio tour. An audio guide, on the other hand, is a type of hardware that was designed, developed, and deployed with one purpose in mind, to deliver audio tours to the general public. 

Second, there are two sides to an audio tour (you will see this point made over and over in this blog), “what you’re listening to” and “how you’re listening to it.” An audio guide is simply another “how”, another way to get the “what,” — that is, the message — to the ear of your visitor.

Keeping those two points in mind, the question then becomes, do audio guides still have a place in today’s artistic, historical, and cultural organizations? The answer is “yes” provided that for the individual organization the pluses outweigh the minuses. Read the rest of this entry »