Augmented Reality in New Zealand

Augmented Reality in New Zealand

Augmented Reality for Tourism in Gisborne, New Zealand

Executive Summary

Augmented Reality (AR) is constantly gaining popularity in various travelling and tourism activities. Currently, AR attracts interest form most researchers given its continued evolvement. The tourism industry in Gisborne, New Zealand has been on the forefront in integrating its activities with Augmented Reality. This paper is focused on augmented reality for tourism in Gisborne, New Zealand. The paper will present an analysis into Augmented Reality and its effects to tourism in Tairawhiti. Also, the study will determine the uses of AR tools and applications in Gisborne, New Zealand. Further, the research paper will explain what AR is in the context of tourism sector.

Introduction

Augmented Reality is the future of travel and tourism industry in New Zealand. Building a unique visitor experience is significant to a destination success. AR plays important roles in the success of tourism activities for it enhances real world experiences to tourists through a mainstream of technologies. The planning of perfect trips entails careful thinking and proper-alignments of components so that travel, entertainment, and lodging during visitors stay are well reserved prior to time, and deliver upon tourists’ expectation when they arrive and start their trip. However, such planning operations could get arduous and confusing to the tourists. However, AR technology has brought revolutions to traveler’s experience by making it much more interactive, simple, and seamless when planning a journey. AR technology has made it possible in layering digital enhancement over an existing real life scenario for tourists. For travel and tourism, this implies that accessing of information, booking of hotel, destination navigation, and location of entertainment options can get simply done via a mobile app. To the IT industry, AR technology evidences the pace at which innovations are being facilitated when organizations embrace information technology. The use of IT knowledge has led to the innovation of AR that has made it possible to design an interactive, real-time navigation, reliable, and quick and easily accessible system that offer high quality tourism services to the visitors. This study is focused on augmented reality for tourism in Gisborne, New Zealand, and how this technology impacts the tourism sector in the country.

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Literature Review

Augmented reality has brought a new level of hospitality especially in the tourism sector (Yovcheva, Buhalis, & Gatzidis, 2012). Gisborne, New Zealand is known as a perfect tourism destination by many visitors who tour Tairawhiti every summer. Embracing AR technology has been the secret behind Gisborne’s attraction of many guests to the country due to its immense benefits. AR integration in the tourism sector provides unlimited opportunities for engaging guests and drive bookings in Tairawhiti. The impacts of AR in tourism, AR tools and applications used in tourism, and the implication of AR in tourism in Gisborne, New Zealand will be explained in this literature review.

Impacts of Augmented Reality in Tourism in Gisborne

Many people have debated on the impacts of AR in the tourism sector, with a good number affirming that AR has revolutionized this industry. The main impacts of AR in the tourism industry, in the context of Gisborne, New Zealand are explained below:

Finding suitable routes to visitor destination

AR has revolutionized the way in which visitors track and trace their destinations. Before the invention and introduction of AR in the tourism world, travelling used to be a logistical nightmare, since visitors had to hire tour guides with updated departure and arrival times, information on routes, and local traffic (Han, Jung, & Gibson, 2013). However, App developers have come to the rescue of this menace and make travelling more enjoyable and affordable. For instance, in Gisborne New Zealand, a Bus Times App has been developed. The App makes use of AR to establish a digital path to visitors’ destination via their smartphones and live feed.

Breaking down language barriers

The biggest challenge for visitors entering Gisborne from different countries has been their inability to understand the language used in the country given their short period of stay in their tour. Long ago, most people would hire traveler’s guide for them interpret to them hand gestures and common phrases. However, with the help of tour guides, visitors still found it difficult in the event they encountered situations that they could not anticipate. Common language barrier issues when travelling have been shut by AR through the invention of Google translation apps that leverage technology (Yovcheva, Buhalis, & Gatzidis, 2012). In this one, AR is integrated with translation technology and object identification thus helping in the tackling of language barrier problems that plague tourists.

Quick and easy access to information

For people touring Tairawhiti, travelling is a perfect and an amazing experience. However, travelling across borders exposes people to places that they are not familiar with. Due to this, visitors demand vital enjoyment and security as they go out to travel, something which has been expensive to acquire (Han, Jung, & Gibson, 2013). However, with the introduction of AR and its installation in mobile devices, people find it easy and cheap to access information in a portable manner. This implies that as visitors are on their trips to Gisborne, they are able to find reviews and information about nearby locations, locate Wi-Fi hotspots, and also check real-time weather forecasts.

Interactive, Virtual Hotel Room Selection and Booking

The most important thing considered by most visitors when planning a trip is which tourism site offers the best lodging and accommodation that meet their standards and preferences. Today, visitors find it possible to take virtual tours in Gisborne at their chosen hotels and restaurants (Han, Jung, & Gibson, 2013). As a result, it is very easy to view where one will stay while in the tour, and choose the perfect hotel that suits best their plans in their stay at New Zealand.

Augmented Reality Tools used in Tourism in Gisborne

There are various AR tools and applications used in the tourism industry especially in Gisborne, New Zealand. Through technological innovations, mobile app devices have been invented to assist tourists in unleashing the objectives of their tour to different sites. However, determining the perfect AR tool for Gisborne tourism may not be easy. Gisborne have been on the forefront in determining the best AR that suits customer’s needs in their mobile app in terms of marker-based or location-based (Kounavis, Kasimati, & Zamani, 2012). The most common AR tools used in Tourism in Gisborne, New Zealand include:

EasyAR

Easy AR is an Android supported mobile App too that is free to use by every person who intends to travel to any tourist site over the world. The AR tool supports many platforms such as iOS, UWP, Unity Editor, Android, and Mac. The latest version of Easy AR tourism tool supports image recognition feature in which visitors can have an overview of the real experience at Gisborne (Kounavis, Kasimati, & Zamani, 2012). The most recent version of this tourism tool brings more features that suit tourists demands by adding more advanced features such as cloud recognition, 3D object recognition, Smart Glass solution, and environment perception.

KudanAR

Kudan AR is a tourism tool that functions in form of marker less tracking by relying on natural features like edges, corners, and textures. Mapping additional elements through different components over OpenGL on the base of visitor recognized location and images is aided by this tool (Kounavis, Kasimati, & Zamani, 2012)..  The functionality of this tool helps in image recognition, and supports iOS and Android platforms. This tool functions faster than other tourism Apps, and it contends with Vuforia. This tools brings some essence of reality to tourists even before they tour Gisborne. Already, they have the real imagination of the site through this tool’s support.

ARToolKit

This is a versatile tool that supports Android, Linux, Mac OS, Smart Glasses, and Windows platforms. In the tourism industry, ARToolKit tool makes it possible for visitors to implement stereo-camera position, camera calibration, orientation tracking, and tracking of site images, optical stereo calibration, and many more. This tool helps in giving visitors higher degree of accuracy and leisure in Gisborne just as they target to once they tour this tourist destination. This tool is quite intuitive, and establishes a path for real-time positioning in which visitors can track the right destination for the site even when boarding vehicles at bus stops.

LayAR

LayAR is another tool that greatly contributes to the success of tourism activities in Gisborne, New Zealand. The App/Tool enables visitors watch the terrain of Tairawhiti via layers mapped on the mobile device screen. LayAR assists visitors gain image recognition and also maps additional tools on the base of user recognition locations and images (Kounavis, Kasimati, & Zamani, 2012). In this tool, every layer and framework features the data about the location (Tairawhiti) together with its social network users. Its functionality allows the expansion of printed product abilities, which tourists use as evidence and gate passes while in the site. Also, a LayAR app makes it possible for travelers to listen to songs and make orders in printed catalog suitably.

Augmented Reality in Tourism

Augmented reality refers to the integration of digital information with the environment of a user in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which establishes a totally artificial environment, AR utilizes the existing environment in overlaying new technological information on top of it (Yovcheva, Buhalis, & Gatzidis, 2012). The use of sophisticated technologies and AR programs has been evidenced in the tourism industry. Today, tourism in Gisborne boasts and enjoys a great success due to its immense application of AR. The establishment of a unique visitor experience positively leads to destination success. In tourism, AR plays essential roles towards this success for visitors are able to have a real world experience through mainstream technologies.

People visiting Gisborne demand perfect travel and tourism experience. Excellent tourism experience entails suitable hotel accommodation, travel booking, and navigation. Along with ensuring these plans are right, the integration of AR in tourism assists visitors enjoys all trip events (Han, Jung, & Gibson, 2013). AR has completely revolutionized the tourism industry. AR potentially supports tourism experiences through advanced modes of visitor servicing, gamification, and storytelling. For instance, DMOs utilize AR in supporting visitors in their native language, providing maps and guides for particular niche audiences, provide extra cultural and historical context to experience, and entertain them on long drives. In these perspectives, visitors benefit from AR by getting the historical figures of Gisborne, New Zealand that are significant to their own culture and stories.

AR facilitates interactive travel guide, hotel and flight booking, navigation and transportation, interactive hotel stays, and translation of foreign languages and signs for the benefit of visitors. For visitors touring Gisborne, the first action is finding flight and hotel that is affordable. The selection of flight and hotel is influenced by online colleagues who share their experience stories. AR is effectively used in the booking of flights and hotels by visitors (Yovcheva, Buhalis, & Gatzidis, 2012). Also, AR helps people in booking hotel accommodation in the most interactive and prompts way.  The proper integration of AR in tourism enables tourists to easily navigate unknown routes in Gisborne, New Zealand. Visitors usually find it challenging to plan a tour in New Zealand if they do not understand the native language. In response to this, AR enables people to translate languages especially through Google Translation AR App.

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Methodology

In this research, both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies were used in data collection and information gathering. AR integration with tourism sector attracts a center of interest in research, and in the context of New Zealand both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies must be used.

Qualitative Research

In this study, exploratory research was used to find out what AR is in the tourism world, the AR tools in tourism, and AR impacts in the tourism world. Qualitative research approach of exploratory study was significant since it helped in gaining a proper understanding of the motivations, reasons, and opinions as to why different visitors prefer to use AR technologies other than hiring tour guides when touring Gisborne, New Zealand (DeFranzo, 2011). Exploratory research helped in obtaining secondary information and data from different researchers, scholars, and opinions of other interested people in AR and its influence in the IT world in relation to tourism sector.

In hypothesis development, the growing potential of AR was also vital. Also, qualitative research helped in uncovering the current trends of AR technology in the tourism sector, something which helped in gaining deeper insights to the study (Wisker, (n.d.). Great attention to detail was established in order to acquire further insight (DeFranzo, 2011). The acquisition of general AR ideas were uncovered since the study focused on New Zealand on in the broader picture of the entire sector of tourism.

In the data and information acquisition, the data collection methods used adopted both unstructured and semi-structured techniques. Primary data was also acquired in this study through focus groups, observations, individual interviews, group discussions, and participation.

Quantitative Research

The study also embraced quantitative research approaches in order to quantify the subject under study by different approaches to numerical data generation before transforming and interpreting it into usable statistics (DeFranzo, 2011). The study features quantity opinions, attitudes, interpretations, behaviors, perceptions, and other different researcher views and variables in respect to the problem.

Primary data was majorly used in this study. The main reason for considering primary data collection approaches is that the method is easy to use. Data was collected and recorded properly in which people could answer questionnaires. The number of participants of this study was limited to 300 (200 locals and 100 visitors) whose opinions and answers reflected the true image of tourism activities in Tairawhit. The main questions asked to the participants were the number of people who use AR in tourism and the ratings of Apps that use AR.

In this approach, the research entailed a lot of survey programs, polls reviews, interviews, field studies, and observation. Secondary data collection approaches was partly reviewed in attempts to justify participants feedback in relation to the industry.

Findings and Discussion

The research found out that AR integration with tourism has greatly revolutionized the industry. From the data collected, averagely 90 percent of the participants believe that AR has positively influenced the success of tourism industry activities not on in New Zealand but also globally. In response to the three research study questions raised, the effect of AR in tourism success cannot be overlooked. The study results and findings were as follows:

Question under study Percentage
How does AR impact tourism in Tairawhiti? 91% positively
How could AR tools be used in tourism in Tairawhiti? Over 90% useful
What is AR in tourism? 100%

The above table shows the research findings of the study. Out of the 300 participants to the study, 91 percent stated that AR has brought positive impacts and successes to tourism industry especially in Tairawhiti. Over 90 percent of the participants postulated that AR tools and Apps effectively fit and are useful in advancing the success of tourism in Tairawhiti for the benefit of visitors. On whether AR is fully integrated with tourism or not, 100 percent of the participants approved this digital pace at which mainstream technology has taken in the industry.  Clients of Gisborne value this AR integration with increased virtual reality, block chain, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence. In this essence, AR is offering endless entertainment and tourist experience for visitors and study shows that in the next 5 years, the whole industry will be entirely revolutionized by AR mainstream of technologies. Thus, augmented reality technology and its immense benefits to the tourism industry cannot be overlooked. It is time for visitors and tourist sites to embrace the technology with totality so as to unleash all potentials and the best experiences for the travelers.

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Conclusions and Recommendations

This study was successful since both qualitative and quantitative research methods were adopted. Also, data was collected using both primary and secondary research approaches. From the study, it is evident that technological developed has taken its pace and effect in the tourism sector through augmented reality mainstream technologies. The great revolution manifest in the travel and tourism sector is greatly associated with AR technologies. Unlike the past where travel experiences were costly and complicated, AR has made today’s tourism experience more enjoyable, entertaining, and classy. Today, visitors have quick access to real time navigation, travel information, language translation capabilities, and interactive entertainment and dining choice through AR technology aided Apps and tools. Therefore, the world tourism industry should embrace AR integration to their services for this has been proven to create a better experience for the visitors. Also, all visitors touring foreign countries should install AR Apps on their Android devices to enhance easy navigation and location tracing thus avoiding tour guides costs. Further, breaking down language barriers requires proper AR integration in the tourism systems in order to remove any difficulties encountered by visitors in the situations that they did not anticipate. Finally, AR technology should be adopted by every tourist site in order to attract more visitors hence increase their reputation and service image in the entire world.

References

DeFranzo, S. E. (2011, 09 16). What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative research? Retrieved from SnapSurveys: https://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/qualitative-vs-quantitative-research/

Han, D. I., Jung, T., & Gibson, A. (2013). Dublin AR: implementing augmented reality in tourism. In Information and communication technologies in tourism 2014 (pp. 511-523). Springer, Cham.

Kounavis, C. D., Kasimati, A. E., & Zamani, E. D. (2012). Enhancing the tourism experience through mobile augmented reality: Challenges and prospects. International Journal of Engineering Business Management4, 10.

Wisker, G. (n.d.). The Postgraduate Research Handbook (2nd Edition). Palgrave. Retrieved from https://www.macmillanihe.com/studentstudyskills/page/choosing-appropriate-research-methodologies/

Yovcheva, Z., Buhalis, D., & Gatzidis, C. (2012). Smartphone augmented reality applications for tourism. E-review of tourism research (ertr)10(2), 63-66.

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