Singapore Tourism Board to offer AR-powered guided tours

Singapore Tourism Board to offer AR-powered guided tours
Image Credit: STB

In partnership with Google's ARCore team.

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Singapore Tourism Board’s chief technology officer, Wong Ming Fai, said in a LinkedIn post that the board has partnered with Google’s ARCore team to co-create digital tourism experiences.

Wang was responding to a post by Google’s APAC Travel team lead, Hermione Joye, who wrote that STB is the first global tourism partner in Google's ARCore Early Access Program.

The aim is to offer Augmented Reality (AR) guided tours powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are hosted by Merli - Singapore’s tourism mascot.

This will be featured in the Visit Singapore app, said Wang.

Wang added the team had to work within a short timeline, find solutions around technical challenges, accommodate changing requirements and bridge teams across time zones in order to get the AR-guided tours up and running.

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

A full launch with more places of interest is expected by the end of the year.

The new AR experience utilises two technologies from Google - the ARCore Geospatial API and the Visual Positioning Service (VPS).

These technologies allow developers to blend virtual content with the real world.

By using AI techniques to match images from the scanned environment, user devices can accurately detect the camera's position and orientation, allowing the appropriate AR content to appear in a way that blends with the real world.

Google launched the ARCore Geospatial API in 2022 to help developers create world-anchored experiences.  The API provides access to global localisation - the same technology used in Live View on Google Maps since 2019. 

The technology uses a variety of AI techniques to match images from the scanned environment against our model of the world made up of trillions of 3D points from Street View images.

Faster internet speeds, as well as the adoption of 5G, bolsters the experience, Google said.

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