Bringing a bit of magic to Manchester for Chinese New Year


Vicki DeBlasi

A key aspiration of CityVerve is to find ways to integrate technology into experiences citizens already have with their environment. We want to enrich these experiences and bring community events to life in new and interesting ways.

The City Concierge use case is one example of how the CityVerve consortium is doing this. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is working to create new interactive wayfinding and digital navigation experiences within the city that are consistent with the physical signage that already exists.

Part of this effort will aim to encourage walking and cycling within the city, while promoting local events and businesses.

Sparta Digital has been working with TfGM to create a new augmented reality-enabled wayfinding experience for the city, which makes use of proximity sensors installed around Manchester City centre. The work that Ordnance Survey has been doing to provide highly detailed mapping of the area has also contributed to the process of designing wayfinding routes.

Helping locals and city visitors alike to discover and get the most from events and businesses in the city forms a key part of this particular initiative.

Parade pilots

We saw the first example of this at the Manchester Pride parade last year, where Sparta’s Buzzin smartphone app offered interactive information and features to help visitors find out more about all there was to do and see on the day.

Buzzin interacts with more than 100 Alpha Node sensors installed across Manchester at locations  including buses, event venues, tourist attractions and various local businesses. The sensors contain micro-location-based beacons that connect digital experiences with the physical world.

So far this year, Sparta has already piloted new features in their Buzzin app to offer an augmented reality (AR) experience to revellers at January’s Chinese New Year celebrations in Manchester. Users were able to browse through events and happenings in the city, navigate to and around them whilst also interacting with wayfinding signage and totems.

Among the interactive experiences on offer through the app was the Zodiac Hunt – a fun, Pokemon Go-esque quest during which the twelve Chinese zodiac animals were virtually scattered around the city centre. A map displaying the locations of the different animals could then be used to track the characters down.

Once a user had found any three of the zodiac animals using the AR camera built into the app, they were able to collect a prize. Interacting, in-app, with the coins and animals collected would also reveal information about that particular zodiac.

To read more about the work Sparta are doing as part of CityVerve, follow the link.