Tourism NI has launched a competition to inspire innovation in augmented reality (AR) amongst the local technology and tourism industries with a £200,000 prize fund.
Technology companies are being encouraged to partner with the tourism industry to develop solutions to help visitors in Northern Ireland find and encounter new experiences while also encouraging them to stay longer and spend more.
This is the second year of the technology focused challenge which previously saw a £70,000 prize fund split between two local technology and tourism partnerships.
Belfast software company Sentireal was one of the winners, working in partnership with a historian and tour guide from Dead Centre Tours to develop an AR app called ‘Monastic Habits’ around Nendrum and Greyabbey monastic sites.
Edgeways, an immersive studio in Armagh, also won a share of the investment, working in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to create the ‘Step back in time’ app, which follows an immersive trail around the Fermanagh Lakelands.
This year the prize fund has been increased to £200,000 and working in conjunction with partners Digital Catapult NI and the Department for the Economy, Tourism NI’s Chief Digital Officer, Dave Vincent, is confident this will generate further immersive tourism and technology partnerships across Northern Ireland.
“We’re very excited to launch this year’s Tourism AR Challenge and with a substantial investment of £200,000 to develop the winning project, this will encourage developers to be even more creative and innovative in their tourism-focussed digital proposals,” said Dave.
“Building an incredible visitor experience will be essential to Northern Ireland’s success as a world-class tourism destination. Augmented reality has an innovative part to play in this ambition, as it begins to enhance real-world experiences and help make the visitor’s journey more interactive, meaningful and seamless.
“In tourism, augmented reality has the power to help visitors with smartphones and other digital devices navigate the destination in any language. It can plug the ‘expectation gap’ at sites of historic or cultural importance, by creating or recreating life via a digital layer over the physical environment. AR can also engage new audiences at tourist attractions via gamification, education and entertainment.”
Dave added: “I would encourage proposals that provide a digital solution which is creatively, technically or commercially innovative and has been developed through a strong tourism-technology partnership approach.”
For further details on entry requirements for the competition and to apply, visit www.tourismni.com/AR before the deadline of November 19, 2018.