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Road Tales: Volkswagen’s Interactive, Location-Based Audiobooks For Children

Road Tales is tackling the issue of too much screen time and fuelling children’s imaginations by giving children a reason to put their tablets away and look outside the window instead.

It is more likely now that kids will be sucked into screens, disconnected from the world outside – so that’s why Volkswagen is trying to reverse this trend with a location-based audiobook app. Created by Amsterdam-based agency Achtung, Road Tales reminds kids that a screen will never beat the magic of the real world.

According to Achtung, one of the goal of the campaign was to encourage ‘brand sympathy’ in order to create a strong brand preference with its main audience. The Road Tales app gives parents an alternative to the usual screen-oriented car entertainment while ensuring that kids are still kept happy in the back seat.

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The team mapped everyday objects found on Dutch highways, from petrol stations to windmills, and scanned more than 5,000 kilometres of tarmac. The app transforms those objects into real-life stories that respond to what each child sees, turning their car ride into a personalised adventure. The story engine was created in collaboration with children’s book authors.

Looking out of the car window used to be what kids did on road trips–but now, screens mean that they barely glance outside sometimes. Volkswagen has decided to counteract this with an interactive solution which, while it still relies on an app, means that kids are more connected with their journey.

The app features interactive audiobooks that creates unique tales based on the location of the user and transform ordinary road objects into characters in a story. To make this happen, the Amsterdam based agency scanned all major Dutch highways (over 5000 km of road) to identify objects like bridges, windmills, trees, petrol stations and turn them into story elements. It collaborated with children’s book writers to write the story chapters, which are triggered by objects along the road.

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Achtung’s Creative Director Kika Douglas commented about the project,

Parents can play the story through the sound system of the car and then put the phone away. The characters of the story also ask the passengers to play family games, like guessing a color of the next car or doing a countdown to launch a rocket before entering the tunnel, or warning them to put their head down before going under a bridge.

Developed for children between 4-11 years old, the app is free to download, so except the children, the whole family can use the audiobooks!

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