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Stirling transforms visitor experience by becoming fully augmented reality city

Stirling has become a fully augmented reality (AR) city in an “exciting world-first”, organisers have announced.

Cutting edge software has transformed the visitor experience in Stirling, allowing people to explore the city through their smartphone screen.

The AR experience sees designers enhance parts of the user’s physical world with computer-generated input.

They create inputs ranging from sound to video in digital content which responds in real time to changes in the user’s environment, typically movement.

Stirling’s rich history and heritage are brought to life through interactive games which unlock rewards and incentives.

To access the new AR environment, users need to download the free Stirling XP app and then hold up their phones as they navigate the city.

At the app’s launch in the city centre on Thursday, council leader Christopher Kane said Stirling is at the heart of Scottish history.

“Our tourism history really stems from the Battle of Stirling Bridge and Stirling is surrounded by a wealth of historical infrastructure,” he said.

“We’re a fantastic location to come to if you want to learn about Scottish history.”

Mr Kane, who has lived in Stirling all his life and was elected leader of the council earlier this year, said the app will allow the historic story of Stirling to be told in a way that resonates with visitors today.

“For years, I’ve been trying to get my kids off smartphones,” he joked, “But this shows: if you can’t beat them, join them.

“I see my kids playing Pokemon Go, wondering around and picking things up in the game – we’re doing the same thing.”

The AR city was created with Stirling Council in collaboration with BT and Seymour Powell, a tech innovation company with a base at Codebase Stirling which helped develop the cutting-edge software.

Stirling Council has invested £200,000 in the project, with funding from the Scottish Government Place Based Investment Programme.

Mr Kane added: “Offering this complete AR environment across Stirling is an exciting world-first and will revolutionise the visitor experience in our amazing city.

Launch of new stirling app
Chris Doughty of Seymour Powell, left, Stirling Council leader Chris Kane, centre, and Alan Lees of BT Enterprise launched the new app (Stirling Council/PA)

“Stirling’s historic city centre and world-class attractions will be overlaid with interactive information, graphics, 3D models and much more, creating a fully immersive and dynamic experience that no other city currently offers.

“Stirling is already a must-visit destination, and this pioneering product will raise the city’s profile and attract more people to come here, boosting the wider tourism economy.

“The new free app will also open up a plethora of fantastic opportunities for local businesses and will make Stirling a more inclusive and accessible place that’s setting the world standard for next generation tourism.”

Chris Doughty, head of immersive experiences at Seymour Powell, said: “The Stirling XP project demonstrates what is possible when cutting-edge infrastructure providers, optimistic and forward-looking public bodies and award-winning designers work together.

“Using Google’s new Geospatial platform, we were able to design a truly immersive experience that brings the city to life by revealing an exciting digital layer, gamifying local history and providing tourists with local challenges that encourage them to go out and explore the city.

“We are delighted to have been able to deliver a project which firmly positions Stirling as a world-class digital destination and paves the way for continued, industry-leading, development.”