The Big One
A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.
Dylan: Mr. Robot is one of those TV shows that like to rewards fans who dig deep into its cyberpunk rabbit hole of a story, usually by giving viewers on-air clues they can hunt on the internet, such as a QR code that leads to a fictional Reddit page.
The latest trick from the Emmy Award-winning show is an Amazon Alexa skill called “Mr. Robot: Daily Five/Nine.” It was made possible by Earplay, a Boston startup led by video game industry veterans that create interactive audio experiences akin to choose-your-own-adventure stories for Amazon Alexa, Google Home and mobile devices. All of Earplay’s stories are fully voice acted and include branching paths depending on your response.
Inspired by the Five/Nine hack that destabilized the American economy in the show, the Mr. Robot Alexa skill is an interactive audio experience that USA Network, which airs the show, promises will provide a “mind-bending narrative of Mr. Robot like never before.”
This isn’t the first time a Boston company has been associated with Mr. Robot. Previously, the show has used products by local cybersecurity companies Pwnie Express and Rapid7 as part of its goal to tell an authentic story about hackers.
Jonathon Myers, Earplay’s CEO and founder, told me that he first connected with members of USA’s digital experiences team when he and Earplay Chief Creative Officer Dave Grossman, a LucasArts veteran, were giving a talk about interactive audio storytelling at USA Network and Syfy’s office in New York for a private event.
“What happened is we know how to make the story happen on this platform,” Myers said. “There was a concept, and we had the tools and design chops to make that come together.”
While it’s still early for Earplay and interactive audio as a medium, the company is already seeing traction. Its standalone skill, which includes access to multiple stories, has received an average rating of four-and-a-half stars from nearly 600 users, and Earplay has racked up a total of more than 300,000 users. Read more: This Boston Startup Teamed up with Mr. Robot’s Creators to Make a ‘Mind-Bending’ Alexa Skill