Funded Projects to date

Projects fall into one of two categories; Innovation projects or Challenge Fellowships. These web pages will be updated as and when further proposals are awarded.

Smart Tourism Projects

The Smart Tourism programme has worked closely with Tourism organisations and technology companies to deliver a wide range of Innovation and Challenge Fellowships projects.  A summary of the overall programme, projects and lessons learned as case studies.

Successful Innovation Projects from Round 1 - July 2011

The Shape of the Festivals, led by Matthew Chalmers and Don McMillan, University of Glasgow.

'The Shape of the Festivals' is a six-month scoping project, building on the reaction of Festivals Edinburgh to ideas for more technically focused innovation projects. The basic challenge is to deepen and broaden visitors’ experience of the Edinburgh Festivals, using mobile computing within the scale and complexity of this setting. Together the festivals sell over 4 million tickets each year so that as a cultural or popular event it ranks third in size behind only the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. Small–scale elements of the festival could be treated in isolation, but initial discussions have made it apparent that maintaining and building on the festivals’ success and scale is most significant and yet challenging. There is great potential for innovative technology projects here, but only in ways that sustain the quality and reputation of the festival experience.The primary objective of this challenge fellowship is a rich understanding of the existing systems and practices of the Festivals—resources and constraints, ranging across social, geographical, informational and organisational issues—in a form that directly supports follow–on technology transfer work. In particular, we will create the springboard for an innovation project, or projects, on systems that help visitors share information with each other and with the festivals.

LADDIE, led by Aaron Quigley and Miguel Nacenta, University of St Andrews.

LADDIE - Large Augmented Digital Displays for Interactive Experiences of Historic Sites. The need to provide “layered accessible interpretation” and to “record and feed back information on visits” has given rise to our promising idea is to research and develop LADDIE, an interactive display with interactive, multi-lingual, spatially connected, and temporally situated content for visitors. In this project we can quickly build on our research and industrial experience with situated, public, multi-touch, adaptive and augmented reality user interfaces. LADDIE will allow us to deliver layered accessible interpretation while at the same time, through the use of gaming, gather richer information on visits, interests and visitor intent. By basing LADDIE on the iSign from ADS Ltd we can use it to promote and distribute our apps or allow interaction via QR with mobile devices. As a platform for interactive experiences it is robust, weatherproof, sunlight readable, hi-res and reflective bistable for ultra-low power.

SMART, led by Aaron Quigley, University of St Andrews, Sarah Hammond, MUSA, St Andrews, and Kate Ho, Interface3, Edinburgh.

In 2009, five of the top ten visitor attractions in Scotland were Museums or Galleries. There were in excess of 4.3 million visits to such sites. 61% of UK and 63% of overseas holiday visitors visited museums, art galleries or heritage centres. We know that visitors cannot access the entire collection of historical artefacts each site has. Consider the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA), which opened in October 2008. This museum puts on display to the public hundreds of the finest treasures from the University’s collection of over 112,300 artefacts. However, due to space limits what you can see during a visit to the museum is less than 1% of their collection. This is the key stakeholder problem that the SMART project aims to address. Our promising idea is to research and develop SMART, a system for mobile applications, which through the use of our novel computer vision methods can recognise the objects in a museum and provide richer context. Firstly, this context will be to related artefacts which are not on display but for which we have imagery or text. Secondly, we aim to deliver a digital-physical experience where the visitor retains focus on the artefacts by delivering overlaid (personalised) multi-lingual text, audio or video in addition to links to other exhibitions or from other venues. Importantly, our form of marker free, infrastructure-free mobile Augmented Reality will not require any changes and additions to the museum itself. This platform also allows us to build up a rich information base about patterns of visitor behaviour with respect to displayed and digital only artefacts.

Successful Innovation Projects from Round 2 - November 2011

LIVING HISTORY, led by Susan Craw and Stewart Massie, Robert Gordon University, Ayşe Göker & Hans Myrhaug, AmbieSense Ltd, and Linda Kong, Kari Coghill & Lorna Ewan, Historic Scotland (HS)

This project proposes a Living History mobile app solution for visitors to Historic Scotland sites, to increase the service delivery capacity and outreach of Historic Scotland across its sites. It delivers relevant information to the visitors on their mobile that is pertinent to specific objects, places, and situations on the historic sites. The information is delivered using local wireless via AmbieSense’s info points to the visitor’s mobile, rather than connecting to the web via 3G networks to avoid large data roaming costs. The information resources contain both official interpretations of the site along with commentary from other visitors to the site. The mobile solution also provides a mechanism to synchronize the information held locally at the site with a central information server on the Internet. The Living History app provides an in-situ interaction with history for the visitors, along with improved outreach and a boosted service capacity for Historic Scotland. Through this app, even remote unmanned historic sites can provide a similar experience of history as a busy visitor attraction with expert guides on hand. Indeed perhaps a better experience; it has a single focus - this visitor - and is based on the experiences of fellow visitors, just like them!

The project objective is to design, showcase and evaluate a proof-of-concept mobile app solution targeting Historic Scotland business needs, with a view to future deployment on a wider scale across staffed and unstaffed sites.


MINERVA: Using Digital Technology to Connect Stewarded and Un-Stewarded Historical Sites

Participants David McGookin (University of Glasgow), Stephen Brewster (University of Glasgow), Jon Oberlander (Edinburgh University), Katie Dargie (or representative, Glasgow City Council), Peter McCormack (or representative, East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust), Jim Devine (or representative, Interpretive Media), and Matthew Aylett (or representative, CereProc).


Many of the historical and cultural sites of Scotland (including 4 of the 5 UNESCO world heritage sites) are un-stewarded. Such sites do not have visitor facilities (such as cafes’, toilets or education centres) or permanent on-site staff. Many have little or ‘patchy’ physical remains that can be seen by visitors, with only a few signs to illustrate both the importance of the site and its history. Any artefacts that had been found at such sites have long since been removed and displayed in museums. As such, there is little compelling reason why visitors or tourists would decided to visit such sites, and those that do are unlikely to gain a rich understanding of their history.

In this project we will use mobile devices that visitors already carry to more closely link museums with these sites and develop applications "apps" to provide users with an engaging an interactive experience when at un-stewarded sites. These apps will allow the discovery of "virtual" artefacts, leading users to visit the museums where the real artefacts are held. At the museum, visitors can leave notes on the artefacts that they found, or obtain more detailed information and history about them. Other visitors will be able to view the comments left by participants and be provided with directions to the un-stewarded site, encouraging visitors to extend their visit to the historical place. In this way, the un-stewarded site becomes an extension of the museum, and the museum an extension of the site, increasing both the number and quality of visits that visitors undertake.



Historical Echoes, led by Professor David Benyon, Centre for interaction Design, Edinburgh Napier University

Serendipity is an important part of the tourist experience that is often disregarded. Most tourist applications that are available on smart phones and tablets lack interactivity and surprise and create the feeling of reading a simple textbook about the sights around the user. Narrative is nonexistent apart from some literary tours and the overall user experience (UX) of using tourist apps is still quite poor. In this project we will address the generic problems of serendipity and UX in mobile digital tourism. We will build on our previous experience with mobile apps developed at the 2011 St Andrew’s summer school to provide unobtrusive alerts to tourists that there is content nearby. The app guides the tourist to the physical location of the digital content where an augmented reality (AR) narrative experience can be played out. The historical content is brought up like an echo to the user. The project will allow us to evaluate the whole UX and the applicability of different modalities and will contribute to a theory of interaction in blended spaces.

Successful Projects from later rounds

From festivals to the rural and disruptive technology ...

  1. Navigating  the  Festivals (University  of  Glasgow,  Edinburgh  Festivals  Innovation  Lab). Prototyped an app to support people collaborating around planning and remembering artistic events.
  2. CURIOS  Mobile (University  of Aberdeen, Bluemungus  Ltd,  Hebridean  Connections). Semantic web for tailored cultural information in rural areas.
  3. SUMMIT (Heriot-­‐Watt  University,  Visit  Fort  William Ltd). Gamifying the hillwalking experience to attract customers to visit rural businesses.
  4. Beyond  the  edge  of  the  Internet - QRAQRBox (St  Andrews  University,  Historic  Scotland,  STAnza). Self-contained, self-powered information servers in remote places.