The evolution of storytelling: from prehistoric caveman drawings to audio augmented reality

Throughout history, examples of our need to tell stories have been recorded. Our fascination with telling a good story keeps us entertained, informed, educated and on the edge of our seats. Audio augmented reality (AAR) is one of the latest technological advances, which can help storytellers enhance and enrich client’s journeys.

Anthropologists have since long studied our active need to tell stories. Telling stories helps us relate to the world around us. By telling stories we make connections, make believe and immerse ourselves in tales from other lands, people and times.

Storytelling is so compelling to humans that even where there are no stories, we tend to create them. A landmark study conducted in 1944 in a Massachusetts college, asked test subjects to look at a short film containing geometrical objects. The film showed two triangles and one circle moving across a plane. Out of the 34 correspondents, only one described the shapes for what they were. All other respondents, interestingly, created elaborated narratives to describe the shown scene. Some described the triangles as men and the circle as a woman and attributed complicated inner lives to the objects.

The evolution of storytelling

Examples from different times, places and cultures shows how storytelling has changed and evolved. The evolution of storytelling is closely related to society’s technological advances.

During prehistoric times caveman used signs, sounds and drawings on rocks to tell their tales, which were about rituals and huntings. In Ancient Egypt stories were told in order to communicate, entertain and convey religious messages using elaborate drawings.

During the beginning of the 15th century the advent of the printing press bought a brand new opportunity. Readers were now able to easily access written stories and read them where and when it suited them.

Technological advances continued to movies, radio, tv, internet and today with augmented reality. Computers, mobiles, tablets and special viewing devices can now be used to access stories at diverse points. It became possible to start a story on a website and continue to follow it on television and even take part in stories using social media channels.

Linear and nonlinear story types

Traditionally, stories have been told in a linear manner, starting at the beginning of an event, proceeding to the main event of the story in the middle and finalizing with an ending (e.g. happy ever after!).

Nonlinear storytelling became popular with the advent of the internet. Users were suddenly invited to enter and exit stories at diverse points. A hyperlink placed in a text could lure customers to a piece of information, an interactive banner could present users with another piece of a story and so on.

Users are nowadays very used to both types of storytelling. The entertainment industry makes particular use of nonlinear storytelling with much success. Take for example the “Star Wars” film series where viewers are given glimpses into the story which goes back and forth in time with each film released.

The role of sound in storytelling

Sounds can transport us geographically, set the mood and the pace as well as make us laugh, cry, smile and cheer. Sounds makes stories come alive. As anyone who has ever told a story to a child can attest to, making special voices for each character of the story will enrich the experience. The special voices helps the listeners to engage with the story as well as feeling emotion.

Sound AAR

By Darekm135 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Think of the sound of church bells or rain or even bacon sizzling on a pan, it might almost be impossible not to feel an emotion attached to these sounds. For us here at AWE, church bells sounds make us nostalgic, whereas the sound of rain is linked to a feeling of zen and sizzling bacon is an unanimous happy feeling.


Storytelling today

Today, storytelling is a recognized tool used to convey diverse messages and it is used in education, entertainment, business, marketing and many more. AAR helps users immerse themselves totally in their listening experience. It keeps them fully entertained as sounds are programmed to offer a real-time user experience. Suddenly a simply walk through a museum becomes alive with sounds that mimic those of the surroundings, making the experience a much more memorable one.

Audio augmented reality can help educators, institutions and companies tell their stories. Stories which use AAR recording technology are not only powerful, they are effective and do a fantastic job at keeping audiences hooked and coming back for more.

Here, at AWE  we are passionate about telling stories using the latest 3D audio technology. We enable our customers to easily prepare custom made location based 3D audio journeys. Our software allows users to prepare these tailor made paths by placing sounds at certain geographical points. The end result is a surprising and immersive experience.

We love what we do and nothing makes us happier than showing what we have created. For a free demo of our software or to learn more please contact AWE.

Inspiration taken from: