VoiceOver (2016)

Hyper-local social radio network for communities & community building

VoiceOver East Durham

Originally developed by Umbrellium, VoiceOver has been used by several communities around UK:

VoiceOver unit in different homes

VoiceOver is a closed network of ‘radio boxes’ distributed to a small community of people that enables them to communicate with each other and share experiences.

VoiceOver forms a hyperlocal social radio network built on 3g or 4g network that everyone in a community can listen in on and contribute to.

VoiceOver East Durham

By enabling participants to connect to, discover and engage with their communities, VoiceOver reimagines what a 21st century community radio could be -- and for some communities can help reduce loneliness and social isolation. It combines a state-of-the-art technology with a user-friendly, accessible and familiar object.

VoiceOver device

The tool is similar to a normal radio - a companion that is always there - broadcasting the voices of the neighbourhood, local news, event updates or general community chit-chat. How it's used and what it's used for is entirely up to the community that adopts a network - the system is for them to use in whatever way best suits them.

But unlike normal radios, the members themselves respond to each others’ messages, and eventually even can create their own radio programme for their community. In some versions of the project, the radio unit is accompanied by a V-shaped light antenna that lights up as it receives and sends messages. This achieves two things - it visibly displays the connections that grow between connected residents, and it also serves as an unusual 'beacon' attracting non-participants to enquire what's going on, helping to spread the news about the project.

VoiceOver unit displaying a connection, visible to the public

VoiceOver might be deployed in surrounding neighbourhoods before breaking ground on a new urban development, extending the network into site as the development is occupied. Or it can be deployed in an existing community as a neighbourhood scale communication infrastructure.

VoiceOver diagram
VoiceOver East Durham
VoiceOver East Durham