Leicester Castle tells its story using Locly and iBeacon
The history of Leicester Castle is being explained through a new phone app. Visitors to the castle can use their own smartphones or tablets to unlock information about the historic site – parts of which date back to the 11th Century. Part of a project called ‘Leicester Castle Tells its Story’, the app uses iBeacon devices to help visitors uncover facts related to key locations around the castle, including its time as a royal fortress for Richard III and famous trails as a law court.
The app has been created by Leicester City Council, the University of Leicester’s museum studies department and arts organisation Metro-Boulot-Dodo. The app’s iBeacon technology was built in conjunction with proximity experts Locly, using the Locly iBeacon platform with iOS and Android devices.
Metro Boulot Dodo explains the project’s aims: “‘Leicester Castle Tells its Story’ explores how Bluetooth Beacons can be used to bring to life a historic building that has very little staffing and resource, with much of the building no longer in existence. These restrictions are common across many historic sites, but with the help of technology, it is now becoming possible to unlock media rich content in a way that is intuitive for visitors”.
Visitors can download the app for free from Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store, either before their visit or when they arrive, and free WiFi has been provided at the castle for this purpose. Once installed there are a number of iBeacon led audio trails for visitors to try which, with the help of engaging interviews with local people who worked in the courtrooms, aim to bring to life the stories that have inhabited the castle.
Testing showed visitors spent 80% more time in the castle when using the app. (Source: BBC News)
The app features a family trail with games and puzzles for children, plus a dramatisation of the infamous Green Bicycle Murder trial which took place in the court in 1919. Visitors on this trail are guided around the courtroom to get a feel for what it was like to stand in the witness box, sit on the prosecutors bench, or be a member of the jury during the controversial trial.
Sally Coleman, heritage manager at Leicester City Council, said: “[The castle has] medieval origins, two Victorian courtrooms and connections to a range of different kings – Edward I and II, Henry IV, Richard III all came here. But people don’t really understand the history by walking in and looking around. As they walk around with the app, Bluetooth signals trigger information on their phone or tablet and they can have audio presentations, dramatic presentations, they can see pictures. It gives them a whole new layer of information and of course it’s free. It was heartbreaking to see people come in to such a wonderful heritage building, spend 10 minutes and walk out again.” (Source: BBC News)