Talented fiction writers are skilled at drawing upon their readers’ five senses–sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But what if a writer had a way to truly immerse their readers into an environment where one could literally smell the zeppoles from the carnival stand or feel the forceful rush of wind from a moving passenger train past the platform? The technology exists—sort of—in the form of near field communication (NFC) tags paired with mobile smartphone and tablet technology.
NFC tags are a form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that cost mere pennies and are often sold in the form of self-adhesive stickers. Requiring no self-contained power, NFC tags are easily programmed from freely-available software. And when an NFC tag is physically “tapped” by an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, the tag issues commands to the smartphone to take an action like setting an alarm, starting an application, or for the purpose of writing immersive interactive fiction, loading a webpage.
Imagine for a moment the creative blogger who writes a web-serial that is set—and targeted to an audience—physically located within a reasonable proximity to them. Utilizing NFC tags strategically and discretely placed around town/campus, the story unfolds when the reader physically experiences a setting, and then taps their device to an NFC tag which then unlocks a new chapter of the story from the author’s blog. The sights, sounds, and scents of the story are experienced, and the end of the chapter reveals to the reader the next physical location that unlocks the next chapter of the story.
This Geofiction concept, akin to Geocaching—real-world treasure hunts using GPS technology—probably isn’t for everybody. It could work well in the city or suburbs, but probably not so well in the sprawling countryside. The audience is clearly limited. And, it’s probably more intriguing to a younger crowd of readers. Though it’s not for me, I admit I’m intrigued by the concept. What do you think? Can you see yourself reading Geofiction?