Like previous years, current and former DTU Compute students created mobile apps for Roskilde Festival 2014 as part of the partnership between DTU and Roskilde Festival. The “Powered by DTU Students” project included more than 100 students who take part in courses every year to develop new design concepts and solutions to existing problems in Roskilde. Every year they engage in volunteer activities at the festival. In fact, their collaboration has been going on since 2010 and both parties seem to have learned a lot from their previous experiences.
The DTU-students will be off course be at Roskilde Festival 2015. Until then; here are the three apps that were designed by DTU Compute students for #RF14:
The Roskilde explorer app generates alternative routes and suggests attractions to discover based on your position inside the festival area. The app uses your phone to determine the start and end points of your journey, and dynamically offers you 4 interest points along the way. By browsing through these interest points and spotting the concerts/events you want to go see, the app also offers detailed information about each activity. The app also remembers your previous tours, so it does not take you to the same place twice.
Mads Bjerg Frandsen, who designed the Explorer app, is a master’s student at the Digital Media Engineering program at DTU.
“The idea came with a realization that there are so many things going on at Roskilde, and the official app provides only an overview of the concerts and other scheduled events. The festivalgoers often stumble upon a cool camp party or a happening by accident, and it is these kinds of discoveries that make it fun to explore Roskilde,” says Mads
Based on the feedback he received in RF2014, Mads plans to improve his app by providing more dynamic suggestions and localized information that would pop up when the users reach certain points within the festival area. The 2014 version of the app was released for Android on Google Play Store last year but, unfortunately, the new version of Explore Roskilde is not available for download yet.
Roskilde Decibel allows you to visualize and track how much noise you are exposed to during the festival. It measures the current sound level around you in decibel, and keeps a record of different sound levels at each of Roskilde’s stages so that you can see them on the festival map. The app also includes a gamification aspect. You can receive achievements by measuring sound levels around different stages and at specific times of the day, or finding the loudest or quietest spots within the festival. The Roskilde Decibel app is available for download at Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dtu.imm.roskilde.dk
Roskilde Festival Music Suggest
If you want to explore artists playing at the festival and learn about the preferences of the other festivalgoers with similar interests, then you may find Music Suggest very handy. The app generates suggestions based on social media and other online sources including Facebook, iTunes, and last.fm. The app has been the official Roskilde Labs app contest winner in 2013 and 2014. Roskilde Labs is the official developers program of Roskilde Festival which aims to help people make apps and win tickets for the festival since 2011. The Music Suggest app is available for download at iTunes app store: https://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/roskilde-festival-music-suggest/id660891678?mt=8
Roskilde Festival: A Living Lab
We also talked to Jakob Eg Larsen, an associate professor at DTU and the organizer of the DTU Compute project, about the design of these apps and the research process that is driven by their collaborations with Roskilde Festival. It was Jakob’s students from his mobile application development course at DTU who came up with these concepts. Jakob has also been part of a larger research project to track and map out the festivalgoers’ movements by using the apps people use.
In previous years, they collected crowd data via Bluetooth scanners to understand not only how people move around but also what type of phones they use and how often they use their devices. But this was an enormous undertaking because they had to maintain so many physical scanners spread around the festival area. So they switched to tracking people’s mobile phones via the apps they use and sending anonymous data about how they move around.
Jakob says: “Roskilde Festival is really interesting because it is a huge city that pops up for 8 days. In a way, for us, it is like a lab; a lab in real life where you can conduct experiments. So we can do our experiments about what the audience does by using mobile technologies and the apps in this limited space when they come out here for 8 days.”
The idea was to use mobile phones and apps as a way to get insights to their behavior. In previous years, they have been analyzing which concerts people attend, if they attend them in groups, how people move around, and how they use all the opportunities and the offers that the receive when they are at the festival. So this could potentially inform the organizers on how to plan the layout, how to plan the concerts and so on.
According to Mads Frandsen, the use of these proximity sensors (such as Apple’s iBeacon) provides not only a tracking function, but also the possibility to provide highly localized, accurate and dynamic information to the guests.
Volt: the rechargeable battery that changes the game
However, the tricky part is to get people to use the apps. One aspect is about promotion and marketing, but it is also important to get people to put the app in their phone. This is a more practical issue: people are keen on saving up battery during the festival. According to Mads Bjerg Frandsen, the introduction of Volt –the rechargeable battery service, also a former DTU project- seriously affected people’s usage of their smartphones within the festival.
Now that anybody can carry an extra battery and get it recharged in minutes, people are keener on trying out new apps at Roskilde. This means a lot of new possibilities for app development, and it is definitely a game-changer for digital designers.
All in all, both Jakob Eg Larsen and Mads Bjerg Frandsen are very optimistic about the future of the “Powered by DTU Students” projects and the apps.
”Many of the apps were actually born out of the students’ interest in doing something at the festival, so there will surely be more projects in the years to come. They will also continue updating the existing apps that have proven to be successful,” says Mads
Mads and Jakob both thinks that there is a lot to be done at Roskilde, both in terms of design and research. And it is this kind of creative partnerships with innovative young minds that can enrich our festival experience with digital technology.