Tourism and Augmented Reality: past, present and future

AR experience at the Casa Batllo

AR experience at the Casa Batllo

When was the last time that you had an experience with AR in Tourism settings? For me, it was in Barcelona, at the Casa Batllo. We could browse through the places around the building and in each particular space it was possible to see the whole house getting life. They gave us some smartphones with headphones and we were just walking around trying to find those mysterious settings around the building. While the phone was browsing for content, I could see a logo – It was made with Unity! In fact, using Unity for AR is quite simple. I didn’t know that!
AR and Tourism is not new. Actually my surprise wasn’t the fact that they were using AR. It was Unity. It is possible that the first AR-Tourism partnership was created in the beginning of the early 2010. For me, it was always like black magic… Very complicated to make!
The potential for Tourism industries and AR is huge. Games could be created in those settings using AR technologies and representations, for example. Another example is in restaurants, while choosing for food in a very interactive menu. But what is the future of AR and Tourism?

Inamo Restaurant (from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW_OnCJShPY)

Inamo Restaurant (from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW_OnCJShPY)

I think AR and Tourism will be everywhere, faster and cheaper. Now that everyone has a mobile phone with cameras, AR is more accessible. And with tools like Unity taking around 5 min to make an AR experience, everyone will be able to create something. This means that AR won’t only work for Tourism, but for everything. In fact, now that everyone could have access to this technology, people from local communities could create themselves an interactive experience!
Of course, a few challenges could be related to immersion. When you’re experiencing an AR interaction you might feel in your own world. That would depend on the type of interaction. In terms of research, immersion is a good area to explore. I remember at the Casa Batllo we had to take care not to walk into people’s feet because we were so immersed into that experience! It always depend. In the restaurant example, everyone was sharing their menu in one table, so it was collectively interactive. But, again, it depends on the context.
The future is not far – it is here and now as we know it! Time for us to build our ideas and leave to the world to experience them! :)

Read more:
Unity tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfxqfdtxyVA
http://www.justapixel.co.uk/how-to-make-an-ar-app-in-5-minutes-with-unity-and-vuforia/

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