I’m currently standing in a small, intimate park. A quiet town surrounds it though only the odd chimney is visible through the abundance of foliage and overgrown trees. In front of me is a bench with the words “Derek Peggie 1957-2010 Amore” carved into its wooden frame. I didn’t know Derek, a new app called Randonautica has brought me here.
Randonautica’s pitch is simple. I load up the app, set my preference on how far I want to go, and then decide what theme I’d like my adventure to follow. Randonautica then calls upon a quantum computer from the Australia National University to give me a randomised destination to travel to. The idea behind Randonautica is to see if my intended theme influences where I end up.
For this particular adventure I settled on inspiration as an idea, which allows me to read my surroundings in a few different ways. I could think of Derek’s memoriam as a reminder that life is short and a sign I should push after my goals harder. I could reflect that the bench sits here in tribute to him, and that I should aim to do something that would make someone want to do something similar for me. Or, as ‘amore’ is Italian for love, I could take it as a sign that a relationship is where I may find inspiration – pretty cruel considering I’m socially distancing and living with my dad, and shouldn’t really be seeing anyone.
While Randonautica has a simple premise, its execution can get complicated
Whether or not you buy into what Randonautica sells, though, it does invite you to go outside to explore and think. In the past few months people have found variation to daily routines limited by the Covid-19 lockdown by letting Randonautica tell them where to go. Sharing those different experiences on Reddit and Tik Tok has also given Randonauts a sense of community while they self-isolate. One of my favourite Randonautica stories involves someone stumbling across a friendly dog in the desert after journeying to the theme of her mother’s lost pup.
Randonautica has certainly come around at a good time, then. While Nintendo’s Animal Crossing gives a weary audience a tranquil island to escape to, Randonautica gives others a way to make the most of their limited time outdoors. Living in a small village, myself, I find myself walking set routes whenever I go outdoors almost instinctively, so I find Randonautica’s experiment endearing and am happy to play along. Even though the lockdown is easing, though, people seem just as keen to keep going outside and sharing more stories.
Confused? Here is Randonautica explained for you
While Randonautica has a simple premise, its execution can get complicated. When I start the app I’m asked to set a radius and if I want to visit any water features – simple enough. Then, however, I’m asked to select between ‘attractor’, ‘void’, and ‘anomaly’. An attractor is a location that has a high concentration of quantum dots, whereas a void is where they are notably sparse. An anomaly is a blanket term for the both of them and offers me the stronger pick between the two, seemingly. I know this as I looked it up. It’s typically best to try out the options and go with whatever leads you to results you like.
After I settle on an anomaly, I’m then presented with the options of ANU and QRNG. They stand for Australian National University and Quantum Random Number Generator, and are where I get my random location coordinates from. While you can get the hang of this through some Google searching, an in-app explanation might make the experience less daunting for curious newcomers.
While Randonautica doesn’t make the most of its casual appeal with its app’s complex terminology, it remains a cute idea for those willing to study up and push past it. Even if you don’t buy into the science at all, it’s fun to suspend your belief while exploring new areas of your local town.