So, after getting some experience doing development for an escape room company and getting to know the needs of the company I worked for as well as many others. I came to realize that if a company wants anything beyond locks and keys. For example, automated doors, sound and lighting effects, and complex puzzle logic are desires that all escape room companies need. However, I have seen company after company unable to find a solution that they can purchase and implement without having a full-time engineering staff. Either they bite the bullet and hire on a full-time engineering team to implement solutions directly with microcontrollers and various sensors or they lower their expectations and implement solutions that are wholly mechanical. The issue with the first is that engineers are not cheap, and most escape room companies are this time are small. Developing a custom system to control your props from the ground up is a large task that has a huge lead time. Meaning that you invest huge amounts of money and the amount of time before you start seeing results is large. The issue with the second is that you do not differentiate yourself from your competition. If you can implement a puzzle with a lock and key in the span of a few hours so can anyone else. I have seen many escape rooms take this route and inevitably they do not pull in crowds since they don’t “wow” their customers. Leading to an underperforming business that I have always seen close their doors after to long. The company I worked for took the first route and struggled for quite a while before the results of their investment started to show. They are now one of the highest rated escape rooms in the Atlanta area.
Seeing an obvious need I have now officially kicked off development on an automated control system targeted at the entertainment industry. For example, haunted houses, escape rooms, theme parks, ect. The end goal is a system that will be implementable initially by a technician. Then it can continue to be supported and configured by the business staff themselves. An easy to use graphical interface will allow a non-technical user to customize how their props work without writing a line of code. The user can do things as simply as changing when and light should turn on or off, changing what a button does, or when a sound effect triggers. Or as complex as designing from the ground up the logical flow of your props with randomly generated clues and codes making each user experience different.
At this point evaluation hardware has been developed and the software backend is in development. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, please reach out and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will release more information as development moves along. For now this is all I’m free to say however stay tuned and it won’t be too much longer before we get together a formal description with some images and mock ups of the final product.