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    Sherlock Global Challenge



Welcome to Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things Global Challenge


Over the next 14 weeks, we’re going to work to create the world’s largest Connected Crime Scene. Some of you will be become Sherlock Holmes others will become the Killer. Crimes Scenes will be filled with smart storytelling objects which are the Clues that can solve the case.

The crime scene will be connected through a series of smart storytelling objects which can physical or virtual. (what the heck is a smart storytelling object?)

Smart storytelling objects will be created, designed, built and tested by teams within the Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things experience.

Experiments will be conducted through a series of beta tests (aka crime scenes) that are staged in various pre-determined locations around the world – such as Lincoln Center during the New York Film Festival or along the Thames River in London during Power to the Pixel / London Film Festival to name a few.

How it works

The following details the why, what, where, when, who and how of this massive online/offline collaboration. This is a RFP (Request for Prototypes) that is intended to help frame the scope of the global collaboration.

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is open to participants of all ages. The project released under a Creative Commons International 4.0 Share-Alike Commercial License

How to get involved

1. Join the Sherlock Challenge by answering our RFP (request for prototypes)

2. Form a team and start prototyping physical and virtual smart storytelling objects

3. Plug your smart storytelling object prototype into one of the many crime scenes that are being staged around the world


Getting Started

Step One – Find an Object

This starts as an individual task but will quickly help you to form teams later.

Find an object or create an object inspired by a Sherlock Holmes story. Please note that you’ll need to share which story the object came from and provide some short descriptive text from the actual Sherlock Holmes source material.

Create a hackpad that captures the following (please see this sample object page which you can easily edit after you copy and paste its contents. For those in the MOOC, you’ll mirror your efforts here on hackpad as well as within the Novoed platform.)

– A title and/or name for your Object

– An interesting and catchy logline for your Object in two sentences or less

– Your first and last name

– A two line, 140 character or less bio

– Where are you located in the world

– A sketch or a reference image that can demonstrate the object you want to prototype

– The story from which the object came or was inspired?


the title of the story that the object came from or was inspired by
page number
some text from the original Sherlock Holmes source material to give context to what you will be prototyping.

– Answers to the following question 5 times – “Why did you select or create this object?”

IMPORTANT: If you are in the MOOC, this is a step built into week one, so don’t do it yet!

– A simple user story about how someone would interact with the object and make sure to include a series of actions and emotional beats that you want the participant / player to go through and feel.

IMPORTANT: Once again if you are in the MOOC, this is a step built into week one and two, so don’t do it yet!

– Blank space at the bottom of the pad for other potential collaborators to leave feedback in the form of questions.

IMPORTANT: When questions are added to the bottom of your hackpad, DO NOT answer these questions publicly, but instead reflect on them and use them to help refine your prototypes.


Step Two – Build a Team

Look through the various object hackpads. To get started, click the grey box labelled “OBJECTS” at the top right of THIS hackpad page.

Keep note of the Objects and People that you find interesting, and make sure to ask questions about those Objects as asking questions is a great way to engage with the participants and start to form teams. An easy way to do this is to link to the Objects that you are interested in to your own Object hackpad.

Teams are intended to be formed through interest, objects, skills and locations. It’s also up to participants to self select teams. It is entirely up to you in terms of who you choose to team up with.

RULE: The only rule is that teams shouldn’t be larger than 6 people.


Step Three – Develop the Prototype

With teams in place, you’ll have less than 10 weeks ( with 4 weeks to be exact until the first beta test at Lincoln Center) to create, design, build and test your smart storytelling object prototypes. At different points, you’ll be able to plug your prototypes into various crime scenes, aka beta tests. These are opportunities to test your work in the wild. More details will be provided as the project progresses.

An example of smart storytelling objects

** Here’s an example of what the NYC team has been prototyping for the Lincoln Center crime scene (beta test) in late September / early October.


Object #1

A Red Rotary Phone is found at the crime scene by participants. The Phone will hold audio files (a mixture of text to speech as well as produced files that could include sound effects, music and/or narration). The goal of the Phone is to enable audio produced by meetup groups, MOOC participants and anyone answering the RFP to submit audio into the experience at Lincoln Center during the NYFF.

How the audio makes it way onto the Phone in terms of technically and from a moderation standpoint still needs to be sorted. The phone will lead participants around Lincoln Center, most likely taking on the narrative role of a Killer toying with participants.

Red Rotary Phone Features
– wifi
– detects beacons
– plays audio
– records audio
– changes and holds state
– broadcasts location
– stores audio



Object #2

The second smart storytelling object is a Magnifying Glass

The Magnifying Glass will most likely be a mobile device (android or iOS) that through art direction becomes a magnifying glass.

Participants at Lincoln Center during the NYFF will discover the Red Rotary Phone, a Magnifying Glass and a bag of beacons, NFC tags and/or chips. In a similar way to the curren t prototype, participants will be tasked with taping out a body and creating a crime scene. Participants will be able to place the beacons, NFC tags and/or chips around other teams’ bodies.

Our thought around the beacons, NFC tags and/or chips will be that they can be assigned files / assets from individuals outside of NYC. Each beacon, NFC tag and / or chip will be nondescript to the players at NYFF until they use their Magnifying Glass. When the Magnifying Glass is placed over the beacons, NFC tags and/or chips, it will trigger audio, video, text or another type of interaction which has been created by remote users.


Magnifying Glass Features
– Reads object’s NFC, chips and/or Beacons
– Connect by Wifi to Clue database
– Display Text
– Display Pictures
– Play Audio or Video
– Deconstruct object


Thoughts on the Clue Database

Clue Database
This is the way that the global audience can contribute clues to the crime scenes via the NFC chips, Beacons, etc. We are currently considering a social game mechanic to determine which users get to contribute Clues to crime scenes. In this system, random players from the community are picked to enter information on the same Object. They see each others’ answers listed anonymously, and then vote on the best one (without voting for their own) to move forward. The answer with the most votes becomes the Clue.

A potential class structure might resemble

Event has many Crime Scenes
Crime Scenes have many Objects
Objects have many Clues

Event ID
Crime Scene ID
Object ID
Clues ID



But wait, I have questions…

This feels ambitious and open ended…
This is an experiment. At the core of the project is a collaborative methodology developed by FreedomLab and Learn Do Share @Columbia, which is used to build open design spaces. While this has been successfully run in physical spaces for the last 15 years with groups like Columbia University, PBS, Unicef, the City of Los Angeles and many others, this marks the first time that we are attempting to scale many of the methods. Our goal is treat this as an open R&D project and we invite you to help document and share your knowledge and skills, but most importantly we’re attempting to build a fun and playful learning space.

Wait a second. I’m a storyteller; I don’t know how to program…
Don’t worry — there are plenty of opportunities to connect with others who have programming chops. We encourage teams to be as diverse as possible. But we’re also planning for opportunities that would enable groups to focus on areas of key strengths. For instance, there will be ways for storytellers to contribute storytelling assets and experiences for other teams to use. We’re still sorting out the details and we welcome your feedback.

Wait a second. I’m a hacker / maker; I don’t know how to create stories…
As mentioned above, we’re working on ways to help teams have access to what they’ll need to participate fully in the collaboration. So if you don’t have a specific skill, don’t worry. Our hope is that this effort will encourage a type of peer knowledge exchange. One of the things we’re exploring in this pilot from an R&D perspective is how dispersed teams with a diversity of skills are able to collaborate.

Need More Info or have questions?
Please see the project’s FAQ and if you feel inclined to help us expand it.