Saturday, June 22, 2024

Singapore and Google expand partnership for augmented reality tours

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The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Google are expanding their collaboration on Augmented Reality (AR) tours of the city nation. Last year, the two announced the introduction of AR tours on the Visit Singapore Travel Guide app, which were launched in January 2024. Now, enhanced experiences will also be available directly on Google Maps throughout the city.

STB is one of two institutions globally to join a pilot program that will bring immersive AR experiences in Singapore directly into Google Maps later this summer. The decision comes following the success of Merli’s Immersive Adventure, the innovative AR tour to 6 enchanting stops around Singapore launched on STB’s app in January. The tour follows Singapore’s tourism mascot, Merli, as he guides visitors to iconic spots such as the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, Fullerton Hotel and Maxwell Food Centre.

This partnership underscores STB’s dedication to testing the use of frontier technologies which can revolutionise the visitor’s experience of tomorrow.

Simon Ang, Singapore Tourism Board Director

© Singapore Tourism Board

As part of the new pilot, STB will continue to use Google’s ARCore and Geospatial Creator to develop new location-based AR experiences directly on Google Maps. Moreover, STB has also onboarded over a dozen other tourism stakeholders in Singapore to join the pilot, who themselves will also develop location-based AR experiences. These stakeholders include retail malls along Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping belt, local heritage businesses in Chinatown and popular museums and attractions.

“This pilot greatly benefits local businesses, who can leverage AR to tell different stories over the same spaces, and have their content discoverable and accessible on Google Maps. It also benefits travellers as it aids their discovery of new places of interest, and enriches them with a deeper understanding of Singapore’s rich history and culture through interactive storytelling”, STB’s Director, Simon Ang, said. “STB is committed to embracing technology to enhance the visitor experience and differentiate Singapore from other destinations.”

© Singapore Tourism Board

Overall, 30 places across 4 key tourism precincts will soon offer AR experiences. These include a unique blend of multicultural neighbourhoods, iconic architecture and delicious cuisine, such as Chinatown, the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Sensoryscape. Whether one wants to watch the ceremonial dragon dance at Chinatown or view the local dishes they can try at the Maxwell Food Centre, there is a wide range of AR experiences they can access to embark on an immersive journey across the city.

Users near the landmarks can discover the AR content on their mobile devices by scanning their surroundings using Lens in Maps, as it overlays the physical surroundings in the real world. Moreover, the experiences will also be available remotely, via Street View on the Google Maps mobile app, so curious people can access them regardless of their location.

“Through location-based AR experiences, we’re making it more intuitive for over a billion users to discover this iconic city in a way like never before. This is just the beginning of a journey that will reshape how we explore the world”, said Google’s Group Product Manager for AR, Eric Lai.

The full experience will be available on Google Maps later this summer. STB plans to further grow the number of location-based AR experiences in Google Maps beyond 30, building on its goal of making Singapore the world’s first “AR City” in Google Maps.

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