Testing wearables & interactive data journalism

Exploring our ideas and finding new, innovative ways of both telling stories and generating public engagement is part of our mission.

Fieldcraft Studios ‘Ventures’, our research and design projects, mean we can put our ideas into practice and then bring this knowledge to our clients.

Having been commissioned to run the digital and media campaign for Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Marathon des Sables challenge in the Sahara Desert, we wanted to test ways of using wearable technology to generate data and in turn stories which would hopefully in turn generate additional media coverage.

With searing temperatures hitting over 50 degrees Celsius, limited food and water and a total distance of 156 miles – the Marathon des Sables is described as the hardest footrace on earth.

Ran is well known for pushing his body to extremes and the Sahara was the perfect place measure how he would respond to the environment letting let his body tell the story.

We fitted Ran with a Garmin watch and chest heart rate monitor. We weighed him every morning and manually tracked his calorie intake and water intake.

Our film and stills cameras also track GPS coordinates so we were able to log his route through the desert.

We wanted to create an interactive dashboard that would allow the audience to experience the conditions in the Sahara as Ran was.

We partnered with the Media Innovation Studio at Lancaster University, who built the dashboard, and the sports science department at Kingston University,  where Ran trained in the heat chamber prior to flying to the Sahara.

Together we designed a dashboard that showed Ran’s vital statistics alongside a visual mapping tool enabling the audience to experience the Marathon des Sables.

In addition, Dr Hannah Moir and Chris Howe from Kingston University gave professional context to the results we were seeing every day.

Being able to create an interesting piece of embeddable content allowed FIeldcraft Studios to further the public engagement of the campaign as the Telegraph published the dashboard online.

Ran's Dashboard - this was featured in coverage by The Telegraph brining a further audience to the project. A staggering 75% of all UK adults saw our coverage.

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