Take a 'Detour' in SF with Audio app

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Walk through San Francisco's history with a new app called Detour.
Walk through San Francisco's history with a new app developed by Groupon's founder.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Well, if the rain doesn't keep you inside this weekend, there's a new "app" that might get you outside for an unexpected adventure.

You can now walk through San Francisco history with an app called Detour.

Allen Ginsburg never had a smartphone, but there's another well-known guy who does have one.

"I founded the company Groupon and I ran that until 2013," said Andrew Mason.

Mason's latest app Detour is like Groupon in a way.

"It's not about getting us to spend more time staring at screens, but getting us out into the world," said Mason.

Using a mix of actors and neighborhood natives, this is one of six immersive audio tours you can take in San Francisco for $5 to $10 each.

They're guided by GPS so the timing feels like magic. And you can go in a group, your phones stay in perfect sync over Bluetooth.

"If one of you pauses, it pauses for the entire group, and you can have a conversation as you go," said Mason.

Crafting each detour takes an immense effort. You've got to figure, it's part walking tour, part radio play, and part video game. That's why producing a new one from start to finish can take about three months.

Producers visit every location and note tiny details before writing a script and recording.

"And a lot of testing, I've walked up and down this alley, I don't know, 100 times," said Mason.

Detour's next cities could be London and Paris.

It's a totally new sort of travel guide.

"Like you have knowledgeable friend there with you that's guiding you through a day in his life," said Mason.