As visitors hike with Explora they will be able to see their location on a map and interact with location-related text, images, sound, video and quizzes. “I’m very excited about the potential that the application of GPS technology brings to visitors of Canada’s national parks and national historic sites,” said Alan Latourelle, Parks Canada’s Chief Executive Officer.
A trial to understand visitors needs and interests
For this trial Parks Canada has deployed 12 devices on each site. The experience is available on three trails from 2 to 3.5 kilometers long. The multimedia guide is both made of automatic, location-triggered items and other contents that require the user to interact with the device. “Therefore, both multimedia savvy and more passive visitors will enjoy the content”, added Tamara Tarasoff.
The project will be wrapped up in September through a social science research project, focus groups and in-depth interviews. Additionally, the software itself records how people interact with the device, allowing for in-depth understanding of its use. Depending on the outcome of this assessment, Parks Canada will define how to use such devices in the future.
The developer of the software, Camineo, started its activities in the summer of 2005, born from a research project on location-based services in national parks subsidized by the European Union.
The first guide was developed for the Park of Mercantour in southeastern France three years ago. In this park GPS-devices are for rent to enjoy multimedia information and discover natural species along hikes. In the Mercantour Camineo’s guides are available at 14 rental locations (hotels, camp sites, etc) and cost €5 per day.
In 2007 Camineo has deployed its technology in ten different sites with 10 to 30 devices each in several European countries. The company made a turn-over of €180,000 in 2007 with 8 employees. “We expect to double our revenue in 2008 in deploying our technology at around 20 locations”, said Christophe Rhin, President at Camineo.