Travel smart through the eyes of Augmented Reality

Is it possible for technology to change the way you make a reservation or visit a museum but also to protect cultural heritage while creating platforms or new tools? Will it be possible to travel to another country and it seem to you that you’ve been there before, that you are already familiar with the culture and environment? The answer isn’t a yes or no, it’s Augmented Reality.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is one of the safest bets for future technology and is likely to make huge advances in the very near future - in fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is already becoming integrated with our day to day lives and there is clear indication that our society in the (not too distant) future will use this technology in abundance.

Augmented Reality (AR) is in fact the "marriage" of the real world with graphical user interfaces.

A very simple and commonly used example is that of a user who experiences the outdoors from the comfort of his home by using AR software on his mobile phone or wearable tech (e.g. Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens). Besides the image of the environment, it can display additional elements/graphics such as historical or structural info on buildings or situational information on attractions such as local accommodation and food outlets. Such information is displayed in a visual field, which is in effect projected over the real, enriching the whole experience.

How we can use it?

Imagine sitting in the bar or the restaurant of your hotel, and being able to use your smartphone to scan the menu and see comments, reviews or recommendations from other guests or even have a virtual view of your food and drink. Being able to walk through the reception of your hotel, see inside your room or walk around the pool before even booking - this functionality is precisely the goal of augmented reality; to give the objects of the world around us a digital dimension.

The augmented reality will eventually make finding information related to accommodation quicker and easier than ever. The choice between hotels that provide an application with built-in AR vs hotels without, could soon be an essential criterion for modern travellers. The customer has at their fingertips everything they need to know about the place they are going to visit and the means to have a richer, more informed travel experience through a user friendly AR application.

We can take this a step further and adopt that technology for tourist attractions such as museums and galleries. Already a lot of museums around the world have adopted AR tech in more than just a prototype capacity and are receiving positive responses and reviews. This positive feedback is causing vendors to consider their next big step with AR and make the technology a bigger part of their attraction. Using AR, visitors can view historic and archaeological artefacts that are kept behind closed doors or even items that no longer exist.

The trumpet of augmented reality is “combining the digital and the analogue world”, meaning, not only will you see the statue but you will be told its story via overlaid information, from both literature and media. The museum can provide you with an app or a device when you step through the door, enabling you to have your own personal guided tour with all the information available to you at a touch or movement. The touristic experience is made far more dynamic and efficient, shifting some current perceptions of museums as stale and transforms them step by step into the “tourism of the future.”

By adopting augmented reality and offering easy to use products combined with “big data” technology, we can have something tailored; a trip that will feel more personalized and bespoke to the user.

AR can facilitate a more intelligent user experience for the travel customer, especially the way you interact with the monuments, hotels, attractions and people.

One thing is for sure, the augmented and virtual reality technologies have arrived and are here to stay.