Tourism -from Smart phone apps to Augmented Reality

Trail Kilkenny© launched a new guide a couple of weeks ago. So what? You might say, haven’t they quite a few of those. Well yes- but this one is not printed on paper and is actually a smart phone ‘app’ which runs on iPhone and their equivalents. It’s the first such guide in Ireland and we are justly very proud of it. Kilkenny LEADER Partnership’s (KLP) Rural Recreation Officer, Eoin Hogan is the initiator of the app’s development. Trail Kilkenny is an inter-agency initiative established to develop, maintain and promote trail development in the county and relies on the support of its foundation agencies, KLP, Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Sports & Recreation Partnership to forward actions. Usually that means Eoin!

Anyway, Eoin contacted a Californian company Every Trail and in alliance with it developed the ‘app guide’ to four separate walks in the Trail Kilkenny suite. The walks are
• Nore Valley Walk – Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge section
• Nore Valley Walk – Thomastown to Inistioge section
• Kilmacoliver Looped Walk
• Castlemorris Wood Looped Walk

As you might expect the app will direct you from start to finish of each walk. But it does much more than that, the app uses your smart phone’s GPS (global positioning satellite) system and the Every Trail software to discover walks within a designated distance and directs you to the start point of the walk. It can also provide a raft of information on sights and attractions on or near each walk, including photos, etc. It’s available for download for the iPhone and other smart phones at the rate of €2.35 for the package of four or 77 cents for each individual walk. Good value, we think, but just a start. It is becoming increasingly evident to KLP and other parties that apps are the future in terms of trail guiding and interpretation. Smart phones have really changed the game and already a new technology is emerging that will offer combine reality and the cyber-world.

Augmented Reality or AR is a technology that uses the smart phone’s camera and its GPS system to embed images or ‘signposts’ of sights or attractions that can observed through the use of the software running on the camera. So it’s possible to embed images of virtual reality into the ‘real reality’ – if you get me? Anyway- KLP is interested in seeing what the technology can offer in terms of interpretation of tourism projects and will be looking to pilot it in terms of some of Trail Kilkenny’s new themed trails. The Haunted Kilkenny Trail focusing on the paranormal offers obvious material. Should be interesting, so stay tuned!

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