23rd January 2013

Augmented reality along the Wales Coast Path

Viv Alexander

The winners of last year’s  ‘How can we connect visitors and communities along the Wales Coast Path?‘ GeoVation Challenge  have been working hard to progress their innovative ideas.  In the guest post below, Steve Knight of ap Ogam explains what they’ve been doing to develop their billingual smartphone app for augmented reality storytellling along the Wales Coast Path:

Since winning our Geovation award – we have been extremely busy! But we thought it time to give a bit of an overview of what we’re aiming to achieve and our progress so far…

We have a 9 month program (which started in October) for delivering the pilot phase of the project.

We have created a not-for-profit company to run the project. For two main reasons:

1. We feel this better represents it’s community aspirations
2. By separating responsibility for the company from profit, we give it more opportunities for future development in whatever direction and in whosoever’s hands are the most appropriate

image of the ap ogam app screenApart from extensive business planning and incorporating the company The first three months have seen us design, wireframe and develop an operational prototype app. It’s not very pretty yet, but we have now designed branding which will be brought into the app during the next phase of development.

Although primitive, using this prototype has already raised issues about how the augments are visually manifested and we are now trying some interesting and different approaches to representing them on screen in order to maximise perceptual accuracy and legibility .

Mobile signal along the coast path is variable with significant stretches having limited or no signal at all. As a result we have had to make the app self-contained, so it will operate without a signal. There won’t be enough available space for an entire coast-path’s worth of data in the app, so we ail have to divide it up into manageable chunks that can be preloaded. We will also need to provide a mechanism for communities to contribute content, so we have the beginnings of a web-based administration system that enables both of these things.

We will also have the app content available from a public website. This makes the project accessible to those without smartphones and those who are unable to access the coast path.

Finally, the project will be a bilingual English/Welsh experience. It is important from both a cultural and technical perspective that this happens from the ground up.

Our next stages are to move the app from prototype to BETA, have a live (testing) version of both the public and back-end web interfaces and begin the community engagement process that will generate content.

Find out more about the app by visiting the ap Ogam website