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Discovering Manchester through AR tech

The tour also aims to inform citizens about developments being undertaken as part of the CityVerve smart cities project

Plaques are positioned to highlight where the in-app experiences are
Plaques are positioned to highlight where the in-app experiences are

The smart cities demonstrator CityVerve has launched an immersive walking tour with the aim of bringing Manchester’s innovation district to life via augmented reality (AR).


Created in collaboration with Sparta Digital’s Buzzin app, the walking experience sets out to celebrate the UK city’s history of innovation.


In addition, the aim is to inform citizens on the pioneering developments which are being undertaken across the city as part of CityVerve, which will shape the future.


The announcement marks the start of CityVerve’s journey to highlight Manchester as a “city of firsts”, celebrating how many milestone innovations have and are being created in Manchester.


From the first ever meeting of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce and consequent formation of Rolls-Royce, to the splitting of the atom, Manchester is home to several pioneering developments and movements.


Through the Buzzin app, the tour celebrates the achievements of Manchester, both past and present, and hopes to inspire the next generation to replicate similar pioneering innovations in the future.


The app takes users on a tour of the Oxford Road corridor, Manchester’s innovation district. Throughout the tour there are 13 plaques positioned to highlight where the in-app experiences live, which is tied to GPS coordinates.


These visual markers are where the AR characters come to life though the users’ smartphone, with virtual tour guides telling the stories of why Manchester is a city of firsts while encouraging Mancunians and visitors to get out and explore the city first hand.


“Augmented reality is ground-breaking technology. It uses computer generated imagery to bring ideas to life and allows the viewer to experience first-hand how innovation can change and improve our world,” Rowena Burns, chair of Manchester Science Partnerships, one of the leading partners in CityVerve.


“The new walking tour will encourage citizens and visitors to explore innovation on the Oxford Road corridor and highlight what CityVerve is doing to make Manchester the UK’s smartest smart city.”


As part of this, CityVerve has also collaborated with Pentatonic which seeks to turn rubbish (problems) into products (opportunities). In another first for Manchester, the AR scan-able plaques around Manchester’s innovation district have been created with rubbish to help preserve the energy and environment and bring another forward-thinking approach to the city.


The CityVerve project brings together the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, deployed at city scale to deliver transformative benefits: new business and jobs for Manchester; better healthcare, transport and environment; and more engaged and empowered citizens.


It was established in July 2016 with a two-year remit to demonstrate the capability of IoT applications and address barriers to deploying smart cities, such as city governance, network security, user trust and adoption, interoperability, scalability and justifying investment.


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