STB expands its digital tourism offering with augumented reality – Digital Transformation

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Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has expanded its digital tourism offerings with augmented reality (AR) guided tours powered by AI, and tourists will be hosted by Merli – Singapore’s tourism mascot during the tour of the country.

This AR tour is powered by Google’s ARCore and Geospatial Creator and is accessible in the Visit Singapore Travel Guide app.

Earlier, at Google I/O 2023, STB and Google launched a preview of two immersive AR experiences around Merlion Park and Victoria Theatre, allowing travellers to embark on immersive guided tours, from their phones.

Now, Merli will guide travellers through six stops in the popular tourism precincts of Singapore’s Civic District and Chinatown.

For instance, travellers can visit Singapore’s first-ever post office at what is now the Fullerton Hotel — and send a virtual postcard to friends or family. At the Great Emporium stop, travellers can marvel at a life-sized bumboat brought to life in AR and learn about the significance of the Singapore River for the city and its people.

STB director for The Collaboratory, Simon Ang said STB looks for possible tourism use cases in emerging technologies including Extended Reality (XR) and is open to tap technologies to create better experiences for visitors.

Enhancing Travellers Experience

Merli uncovers hidden spots like the Peranakan Tile Gallery, a local Chinatown business that sells tiles salvaged from demolished shophouses.

At Maxwell Food Centre, the interactive AR map of the popular food spot offers recommendations for must-try hawker dishes, helping first-time visitors visually navigate the vast range of food options.

The AR experience combines Google’s ARCore Geospatial API and Visual Positioning Service (VPS). Using advanced AI algorithms, the user’s device accurately detects its position and orientation within the environment, allowing AR content to appear integrated into reality.

Google introduced the ARCore Geospatial API in 2022, providing developers with global localization capabilities similar to Google Maps’ Live View feature, leveraging AI to match environment images against a database of 3D points from Street View imagery.

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