Immersive Doorways – Augmented Reality Portals for Visit Belfast
Visit Belfast asked for help to bring a bit of Belfast to their international events. What better way than utilising the latest augmented reality technology, combined with 360 films, allowing people to physically walk in to the virtual world. Pretty ‘meta’ this, hey!
AR Portal activation created for Visit Belfast: Hosted in London, two physical doorways represented augmented reality doorways to a 360 video, virtual reality, experience of Belfast. One doorway took the viewers back in time to the building of the Titanic, whilst the other portal allowed viewers to experience the vibrant history of Belfast through street art.
The virtual doorways were tracked to the physical doors in the venue, meaning you see Belfast through the door from the outside and can actually walk through to be completely immersed in the content. iPad Pros were used thanks to their big screens and ability to use Apple’s AR Kit really well.
Between the door frames we had a green screen, allowing people to take photos of their friends in front of a number of Belfast backgrounds. This gave an element of the experience that could be easily shared on social platforms.
“It’s important that Belfast is seen as a smart and innovative modern city destination alongside its rich culture and history. It is this combination that is the city’s unique selling proposition, relevant to conference organisers and the travel trade, which is why it was particularly exciting to utilise augmented reality to deliver experiential marketing as part of our destination showcase.”
Chief Executive, Visit Belfast
Finding inspiration from two of the most eye-catching visuals of Belfast; The Titanic exhibition and the iconic folk street art, we wanted to showcase the stories with physical representations that would not only carry the view into that world, but provide very specific mapping reference points for the technology. Getting the AR overlay just right meant long nights of trial and error working closely with the technology partner. We incorporated vintage travel stickers, custom portraits that paid homage to the existing street works (including all of us) and graphic patterns to anchor the overlay to specific points, seamlessly and fluidly.
As this was a roadshow going overseas, each individual piece required modular assembly and breakdown for shipping and staging.
Belfast on the Road
In February 2019, key business event organisers, travel trade operators and tourism media were given a unique chance to experience Belfast in both London and Amsterdam as Visit Belfast presented two major city showcase events that brought Belfast to life using new augmented reality (AR) technology.
Working in partnership with Tourism Ireland and local tourism businesses, over 100 top buyers and event organisers were invited to see and hear first-hand Belfast’s compelling offer for conferences, events and group travel in 2019. Attendees represented over £80m of potential business.
The largest targeted event ever organised by Visit Belfast outside of Northern Ireland, attendees included big brand online travel agents Expedia, global tour operators Miki Travel, event-organising ‘super agencies’ including Banks Sadler and BCD as well as representatives from some of the UK and Europe’s leading professional associations.
Two specially-designed immersive AR experiences took guests holding hand-held tablets on a guided tour around Belfast, showcasing its colourful street art, including political murals and peace walls, and contemporary street art in the Cathedral Quarter. Then, going back in time, guests were taken to the Harland and Wolff shipyard to learn about the city’s rich maritime
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey was present at the London event, and said “This event was a fantastic opportunity to tell this important and influential audience the stories that not only reflect Belfast’s heritage and culture but its dynamism and creativity today – from GAME OF THRONES® and the flourishing film industry to world-class food and hospitality, musical talent and much more.”
Innovative marketing and ‘roadshow’ tourism events yielded 879,318 visitor enquiries for Belfast in 2019
Campaign: Re-Imagine Belfast
Brand: Visit Belfast
Client: Visit Belfast
Director: Peter McLaughlin
Producer: Pablo Mahave
Art Director: Blair Barnette
Partners: My Liaison
Deliverables: iOS AR App
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Blair Barnette has been a Contributor since 30th January 2016.