Adaptive content allows you to create alternatives within an experience. Every alternative will not be experienced by a single user but different users may encounter different alternatives depending on their context or circumstance.
It has two main purposes in the system:
1. Ensuring that an experience can move forward
2. Delivering more contextualized content
A poorly designed experience can stop the user from progressing. We often thought of a user who lives on a corn field. Let's say the first step in the experience is to go to a bank. There are no banks in corn fields so the user is blocked and cannot progress in the experience. With adaptive content we can specify that the experience starts at a bank, but if no bank is close by, then it starts near a school, but if no school is nearby, then it picks a random point near the user. In this case, a bank is preferred, then a school but if neither is available, a generated random point will at least let the person move the experience forward. The generated random point is the alternative which is available to everyone.
In the second case, adaptive content allows for more contextualized content which makes the experience feel more personal. Let's say the user is instructed to walk to a nearby museum. We can use adaptive content to change the message based on any condition. For example, the content can adapt to a weather condition. If it is raining, a prerecorded audio message will play saying "You'd better hurry to the museum or you're going to get soaked". If it is sunny, it might say "Take a stroll to the museum. We don't get enough days like this!". An author must decide in advance where adaptive content is appropriate and if so, generate the necessary media to play when each alternative is reached.