Beacons and Butterflies – a new app for the Botanic Garden

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When the National Botanic Garden contacted us about their new exhibit for the 2016 Summer Season we got all in a flutter!  They needed a mobile app that could deliver digital content to visitors as they explore their new Butterfly House. Called Plas Pilipala, the Garden’s Butterfly House has an average temperature of 26°C and humidity of 98%, so it was quite a challenging environment for beacons! They also had a tight deadline to reach for their official opening on 25th July 2016.

The Garden’s team wanted us to help them create a bilingual app for Android and iOS that could deliver great interactive digital content to visitors that was as colourful as their new butterflies.  So we created an app template for them using the Locly Native platform, which they could access online from their offices. They then populated the template with new and existing digital assets. The app includes 6 key collections for visitors to browse when onsite including: welcome, digital tour, butterfly directory, team guide, and location map.

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In the ‘Digital Tour’ section there are 8 collections, which are ordered in the app by beacon proximity, with the nearest at the top.  So with the app in their hand, visitors can learn a bunch of new facts about the butterflies when next to key locations along the tour e.g. how they evolve from pupae, their diet and natural habitat. Also, by tapping on any of the ‘Butterfly Cam’ cards, visitors can see the Tropical House through the eyes of one of the newly emerged butterflies!

Hello World: A butterfly's first view of the World from inside the emergence cage.

Hello World: A butterfly’s first view of the World from inside the emergence cage. Taken with 360° camera.

In addition to digital assets such as photos, interactive widgets, videos and 360° panorama images, the app also includes audio narrations from the Garden’s butterfly experts and volunteers. These recordings were made specifically for the app to provide visitors with a unique insight into the world of butterflies.

The app was created using the Locly Native cloud-based platform and Locly app designer Susan Davies explains more about the process: “We created an eye-catching template for the app based on the Garden’s new Plas Pilipala promotional materials, using similar colours and fonts. The app has a unique and colourful design and showcases what can be achieved using the standard Locly Native app layouts. The template was then placed in the Garden’s account so their team could start uploading digital assets to the collections and cards – a process which only took just a few days. Then all that was left was to do was to link the content to the beacon devices and set-up some simple notifications!”

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Once all the app content was tested and approved, the app was ready for submission to the app stores, just in time for the July launch (at the moment, App Store approval time is around 3-4 days, and Google Play is just a few hours).  The Garden team can continue to develop their app by logging into their online Locly Native accounts. New content can be tested/previewed by using the Locly Native app before it’s published to the live app by clicking the ‘Publish’ icon on the CMS.

As well as being a big attraction, the new Butterfly House also underpins the scientific research work the Garden is doing with bees, pollen, honey, hoverflies, moths and other pollinators.

Head of Marketing David Hardy said: “The world has woken up to the importance of bees but bees are only part of the pollination picture. As well as being a place of awe and wonder, this new attraction will help raise awareness of other pollinators. Without pollinators there is no chocolate, there is no coffee – it is that important!” (Source: National Botanic Garden of Wales).

Creating a beacon app like Plas Pilipala is easy using the Locly Native app template, and you can get your app up and running in days! For more information on how you can get started, please get in touch.