Cardigan Castle: 900 Years of History in 1 Mobile App

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We’re excited to tell you about a new app project we’ve been working on for Cardigan Castle – a recently renovated heritage site in Ceredigion, Wales. The aim of the app, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is to provide visitors of all ages with an enhanced digital experience when exploring the castle grounds.

Tour Guide in your Pocket

Built using the Locly Native mobile app platform, the free app is available on both Android and iOS devices (phones and tablets), which visitors can download in advance of their visit. Or they can download it using the castle’s free Wifi when they arrive.  All app content is included in the initial download, so the app works offline i.e. no WiFi or network connection.

The app is absolutely crammed full of history, stories and fascinating facts about this important historical site – all of which is available at the visitor’s fingertips. They can follow 3 digital tours; Medieval, Georgian and Castle Green House (a recently restored Georgian dwelling within the castle grounds). The tours include maps, snippets of historical facts, plus audio/video, amazing restoration photos and stunning 360° degree panoramas. Other fun activities include a memory game, match game, and word search. There is also a selection of exclusive selfie photo frames for visitors use and share online with family and friends (connection is required for sharing).

Tappable map, before & after restoration photos and interactive widget in the Cardigan Castle mobile app

Visitors can follow the story of the castle as they walk around the grounds.  With the app on their device, they essentially have a knowledgeable tour guide in their pocket, who can highlight points of interest nearby.  The app compliments existing exhibits and interpretation boards by offering extra digital content such as audio, video and interactive photos.  One of the highlights of the app for me are the before/after photos of the castle grounds which bring the restoration project to life!” said Locly app developer Susan Davies.

Beacon Notifications for Points of Interest

The app also responds to its environment with aid of iBeacon technology. As the visitor moves around the house and grounds they see occasional notifications pop up on their device, informing them of nearby points of interest – one tap and they are taken to the relevant information in the app. These notifications are triggered by hidden beacon devices and work even when a device is in the visitor’s pocket.

iBeacon triggered notifications for POI in the Cardigan Castle mobile app

There is also a beacon-powered Treasure Hunt for families to enjoy. The challenge is to identify 6 castle objects from thumbnail images. When the app is within range of an object, the thumbnail image magically changes, and the user can tap on it to ‘collect’ that object.  When all the objects are found, the user is prompted to visit the castle shop to claim their reward.

Additional content in the app includes a historical timeline, restoration story, collection of ghost stories, audio history, gallery of old paintings/drawings, and a photo collection of ‘hidden castle features’.  There is also information on the restaurant, gift shop, events, plus links to the castle’s website and social media sites. The castle also made the decision to make all of the app content visible from any location, so those who are unable to visit in person can still explore the site and learn about its history – interactive features such as the 360° panoramas, videos and before/after photos are especially important for this reason.

Adding images and links to a 360 panorama image to create an augmented reality effect for your app
Simple App Updates for Castle Staff

Castle staff are able to login to the Locly online CMS to create new content, make changes and publish updates to the live app on people’s devices. They can also send relevant push notifications to app users and monitor all app activity via their Google Analytics account. Castle facilities officer Sue Lewis said: “Cardigan Castle is one of the first tourist attractions in Ceredigion to use this latest technology. It’s an exciting development for the castle and shows that even though it is 900 years old it still keeps up with the latest trends!

The app can be downloaded now from Google Play and the App Store. There are plans for further development in 2017 which includes a botanical tour of the gardens, a video tour presented by castle historians, plus additional location/proximity features. Please contact Locly for further information about this project.

 

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