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New app aims to help you explore Edinburgh Up Close

New app aims to help you explore Edinburgh Up Close

Just how well do you know the myriad of streets and closes that wind through the Royal Mile?

Mary's Kings Close was transformed into an award-winning tourist attraction and Fleshmarket Close was the star of an Ian Rankin novel, but what about the other hidden alleyways?

A new tour will use state-of-the art mobile technology to pull you back in time and teach you the history of these lesser-known closes.

Developed by entrepreneur Gavin Neate, the tour follows in the footsteps of his winning Edinburgh Apps idea, which created a pedestrian crossing system that helped partially sighted people cross the road safely using an app.

Using beacon technology which removes the need for wi-fi signal, Gavin has worked with Edinburgh City Council since January developing new app Edinburgh Up Close.

The free app features tales from the history of the Royal Mile's closes through storytelling, song and text, ensuring everyone who can access the app will have full usability.

"I realised that I could use this technology in lots of other ways that was going to do what I really wanted it to do, which was provide inclusive solutions for society," Gavin said.

"Basically what we did was we used the same technology to provide a tourist solution on the Royal Mile based around the closes.

"You then get the opportunity to realise that Edinburgh as a museum isn't just inside the museum, it's out on the streets.

"If you're walking up and down the Royal Mile you've got the wee closes and you can walk into Pirrie's Close, Paisley Close or Chalmers Close any of these closes and they've all got amazing history connected to them but you wouldn't know it."

  (© Neatebox)
via STV via STV

So how does the app work?

Without the need for wi-fi or a phone signal, the app will automatically connect to the beacon when you step into the close.

Whether it shows a snippet of history through storytelling, images and songs, Gavin ensured everyone who has access to the app will be able to uncover the same information.

"We set it up so our hardware was in the closes and that hardware talks to the mobile phone," Gavin explained.

"The person has an app that they've downloaded, they walk into the close and get information about the close.

"The other thing that we wanted to do was make sure that it was accessible so we concentrated on providing a solution that was going to be something that everybody could use. 

"It really seemed to us that the best way forward with that would be to use something everybody connects with which is storytelling.

"Instead of just having very dry information, we thought let's hire a storyteller and get the storyteller to tell the stories, record this and attach it to each close so when the person goes in they get to hear a story from a storyteller."

  (© Neatebox)
via STV via STV

With his ongoing pedestrian crossing project and the new tourist additions underway, Gavin hopes in the future the app can be developed for further products.

"There's lots of other uses for the technology that are going to be very helpful to people in the future," Gavin said.

"I pretty much guarantee that we're the only company that is doing it from the point of view saying this isn't a solution for people with a disability, it's not a solution for people who don't have a disability or don't consider themselves to have a disability, it's a solution for everybody.

"It's all about bringing everybody together, I can't stress it enough."

Edinburgh Up Close will go live on Monday, June 8 from the app store.

  (© Neatebox)
via STV via STV

Photo Credit: © CC | Flickr | jpitha | http://bit.ly/1BGMhyR

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