Imagine taking a lengthy backpacking trip through Europe with an interactive map of all the cathedrals, museums, castles and other landmarks, complete with information on the cultural significance of each location—all at your fingertips. Augmented reality (AR) has made this a reality. The technology adds digital layers of data to real-world images viewed via a smartphone, helping users gain a more comprehensive appreciation of their surroundings without a cumbersome, physical brochure.
The goal of augmented reality in tourism is to offer travelers additional guidance and entertainment options as they explore new terrain. The first travel app to incorporate AR was Tuscany+, which labeled itself as an “interactive, real-time guide” to help with navigation and cultural learning.
Since then, more and more companies have found ways to improve the tourist experience with augmented reality apps, including unorthodox cases such as Pokemon GO encouraging people to get off their couches and find digital creatures in surrounding areas. AR technology has evolved plenty since its early days, with augmented reality apps for tourism now offering some of the most sophisticated capabilities for travelers.
Picking the Right Hotel
You can read all the reviews in the world about a hotel, but you won’t know what the place is actually like until you get there. Thankfully, augmented reality travel apps now make it possible for travelers to check out the digs without physically being there in the form of virtual 3D tours of hotels.
Some hotels allow you to examine various room options via the tour, as well as features such as swimming pools, gyms, bars and restaurants. These apps also give users a solid idea of restaurants, entertainment and other tourist attractions near the hotel.
One such hotel that offers an augmented reality app is the Mansion at Casa Madrona in California. The app has been successful in helping the property attract more guests by displaying its amenities and offering them a more personalized experience with accommodations to suit their needs.
Hotels can benefit greatly from the use of augmented reality apps to showcase what’s inside them. Essentially, these apps serve as marketing tools that improve a hotel’s reputation and attract customers.
Finding the Best Route to Your Destination
Traveling used to be a logistical nightmare, as you would have to buy guides with updated bus departure and arrival times, routes and information on the local traffic. Even if you planned your trip to a tee, you might end up on the wrong bus or miss your bus altogether.
App developers have now made it easier to figure out how to get around when traveling. For example, Mapway Limited developed Bus Times London. This app uses augmented reality to create a digital path to your destination through a live feed on your smartphone’s camera. It’s a similar idea to regular mapping apps, but you can see the route in front of you with a higher degree of accuracy.
The app is quite intuitive, as it creates a path that begins with your real-time position, then follows a line that includes a red icon that marks your bus stop. You can also find buses by following the path, and Bus Times London adjusts your path if you deviate from it, finding alternate ways to reach your destination.
While we already have apps for bus routes in certain metropolitan areas, there is a lot of potential to expand this idea to other cities, towns and countries thanks to the magic of AR. With this technology, you can give travelers a good idea of traffic conditions, the weather, bus and train routes and real-time alerts to enhance their itineraries, all in one screen.
Breaking Down Language Barriers
Perhaps the biggest challenge of entering a foreign country is attempting to get a grasp of the language in a short period of time. Many people will buy a traveler’s guide to the city in order to learn common phrases and hand gestures. However, even with these guides, you will still experience difficulty when you encounter a situation you did not anticipate.
Common language barrier issues when traveling abroad include not knowing what to order in a restaurant because you can’t read the language or not knowing if you’re on the right street because you can’t read the signs. AR can now help with such conundrums, as companies like Google have developed advanced translation apps that leverage this technology.
The Google Translate app makes it easy to translate a word into English from another language or vice versa. Nevertheless, the app won’t help if you see a sign in Japanese that you’re unable to translate because you don’t know how to type it in. Enter Word Lens, an extension of the Translate app. This app lets users snap a picture of a foreign language on the streets, on a menu or elsewhere, then the app immediately translates it into the language of your choosing. The app isn’t perfect just yet, but it can handle live translations in 30 languages.
In this case, augmented reality is combined with object identification and translation technology to tackle the language barrier issues that plague travelers. These apps represent one of many ways you can use a well-crafted augmented reality travel app to create a better connection between tourists and locals, allowing users to gain a deeper appreciation of other cultures while also enjoying a hassle-free trip.
Augmented Reality Apps for Tourism: Changing the Face of Travel
With the help of augmented reality, you can help travelers enjoy a tourist experience with mobile apps that cover everything from booking a hotel room to navigating their surroundings to translating foreign languages. AR offers endless business opportunities for companies interested in advancing their position in the tourism industry, attracting customers and increasing their bottom line.
If you’re hoping to implement augmented reality technology into your tourism app, you will need a developer with the talent and experience to help you achieve your goals. The team at SevenTablets specializes in augmented reality, and we’re also well-versed in other emerging technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain and natural language processing.