image of hands holding a mobile phone with SENSEcity's augmented reality app

Background

SENSEcity Ltd. is a dynamic, high-tech start-up company looking to disrupt the traditional travel guidebook market. Pooja Katara, an architect, is the founder of the company and came up with the idea of an alternative guidebook as an artistically illustrated booklet with a complimentary mobile application during her Masters’ degree at The Glasgow School of Art. The output from her degree included a test of this guidebook.  

 

Challenge

SENSEcity Ltd. wanted to develop the test case into a working product, addressing the demand for an authentic tourism experience by offering a unique interactive guidebook that would work along with an augmented reality application delivered on a mobile phone. The intent was to bring the cultural heritage of the city to life through experiential tourism. Pooja was looking to collaborate with academics to develop a prototype which could also be a fully working product.

Although Pooja had studied at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), she was not sure which university would have the capacity and capability to work with her, or how to contact the right people to take forward a collaborative project.

 

Solution

Pooja met Ruth Oliver, Interface’s Business Engagement Executive for Glasgow and Clyde Valley, at the RBS Accelerator in Glasgow, where the company is based. Ruth drew up a brief outlining the challenge, which was issued to universities throughout Scotland. Several responded to the brief and Pooja chose to collaborate with The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation to use augmented reality to bring archive images and animations to life, and embed audio into the app.

The project was to focus on:

· Heritage 3D Visualisation of artefacts and buildings. This project would bring 3D heritage content to the user via augmented reality, some of which would be animated and appear to leap from the pages of the booklet, adding a new and unique dimension.

· Urban Literature/ History in Built Environment and Culture. With Professor Johnny Rodger’s (Professor of Urban Literature at The Glasgow School of Art) unique architectural input into the Architectural Heritage with his own take on the History of Glasgow’s Built environment, content would be curated and the approach to the narrative of the guidebook developed.  From this, a script would be created for the voiceover that would play whilst using the app.

The collaborative project was part-funded funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface.

 

Benefits

The development of this project alongside the expertise from GSA proved extremely beneficial to SENSEcity and led to their first commercial travel guidebook and mobile application.  The creation of high-quality 3D content improved the AR interactions that users will now get to experience. The re-written narrative, and access to local expert knowledge of the history professor, made the content richer and, with access to the professional sound recording studio at GSA, the company was able to create a high-quality audio guide along with sound effects; an important feature within the app.

 

Follow-On Activity

Interface provided additional support to the company through a collaborative project with digital marketing students at the University of Glasgow looking at how to promote the SENSEcity app.

In collaboration with West Coast Motors and The Glasgow School of Art (following on from the original project with GSA), SENSEcity received £7,500 from the £50k Collaboration Fund launched by the new Experience Glasgow tourism network, which will allow visitors onboard the Glasgow City Sightseeing bus tours to experience Glasgow in a hi-tech way.

Pooja has since become a Converge Challenge winner of the newly introduced Creative Challenge category for her new-age travel guide.

The company are currently looking at evolving their product to fit into the Covid and post-Covid world.

Pooja Katara

I received a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher at the start of SENSEcity's journey back in 2018. The support helped my company develop the very first prototype. Ruth Oliver from Interface patiently understood the need and challenges I was facing and connected me to the School of Simulation and Visualization at the The Glasgow School of Art (GSA). We explored imaginative and novel uses of advanced 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies for the Augmented Reality Mobile Application. I also connected with the History and Architecture Professor at GSA who has continued to work with us on bespoke projects. Thanks to Ruth and the team at Interface for the continuous support as we have hugely benefited from the connections and funding received. 

Pooja Katara, Founder, SENSEcity