Like a good cup of coffee juiced up with hot milk—this is “Theater au Lait!”
The Laboratory for Audience Interactive Technologies (LAIT) has been established to research and develop applications for personal mobile devices for use in live performance. This includes theater, music, dance, and performance art. For the past year and a half we have been working on an innovative information delivery application for use in live performance events. This system consists of three parts: a mobile app, an event server, and a content creator. It allows a producer to show content on a live event attendee’s phone instantaneously, on cue, in real time. These informational graphics give you just a little more idea of what LAIT can do (click them to enlarge):
The idea behind LAIT came from a performance of a piece called Kama Begata Nihilum at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts by students at the University of Illinois Department of Dance. Conceived by Prof. John Toenjes, and produced with the help of programmer Tony Reimer, composer Ken Beck, and choreographer Janice Dulak, this dance featured a smartphone app that flashed colors on cue, and displayed Augmented Reality (AR) to the audience as they pointed their phones at the cyc, or backdrop, behind a giant robot affectionately called “iPad Man.” Multiple networked iPads were used by the dancers, using a custom app developed specifically for this performance.
So many audience members absolutely loved the interaction with the stage performance through their smartphones, that it became evident that the time to develop an app for use in the theater is now. Prof. Toenjes decided to start LAIT at the University of Illinois, because of the ready availability of a willing audience at the Krannert Center, and one of the world’s best computer science programs. We are underway now, engaging the world in a new era of theater/mobile device integration.
To get some idea of LAIT and the thinking behind it, you might want to watch this video of the theory and practice of a LAIT production:
As you can learn in the video, there are design considerations that must be taken into account when making an app for the stage, which you can read more about on the Research and Applications page. As our team of programmers and artists grows, you can follow them on our Personnel page. And if your interest in our app has been piqued by all of this and you want to know more, please Contact us!