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STB and Snapchat bring augmented reality to Haji Lane

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 3 min read
STB and Snapchat bring augmented reality to Haji Lane
Users are tasked to pop as many virtual balloons as they can within a set time through the Snapchat app, at the Drunken Balloon store. Photo: Snapchat
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A visit to Haji Lane is set to become more interesting thanks to a collaboration between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Snapchat.

Visitors can use Snapchat’s “Custom Location” lens in the app to experience augmented reality (AR) experiences built upon existing, real-world infrastructure.

All they have to do is to scan the Snapcode (which is a QR code) in front of each participating location using the Snapchat app to interact with the AR content that brings the history and culture of the area to life.

There are currently five stores along the street offering those AR experiences. A mural on the facade of the local Mexican restaurant Piedra Negra will come to life, offering fun facts on Haji Lane. Visitors can also try on a Batik Dress from Utopia Apparels, play a fun game at Drunken Balloon, have their palm read at Shalaby Sweets and express their mood at the ‘I am’ café.

This initiative with Snapchat is part of STB’s ambition for Singapore to be a living lab that powers the future of travel and a launchpad for global companies to partner on novel tourism applications.

According to STB, it has been actively looking for possible tourism use cases in extended reality, an umbrella that encompasses all immersive technologies, including AR. This is because those technologies have a strong potential to enhance the on-ground visitor experience and drive more excitement and revisits to places of interest.

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As such, this partnership aims to enhance visitors’ experience and destination story-telling and drive discovery of local shops and businesses among Snapchat’s unique audience base, which reaches over 75% of 13- to 34-year-olds in over 20 countries.

STB and Snapchat will review user engagement data and public feedback from this pilot initiative at Haji Lane before deciding to explore other joint initiatives.

“We know that travellers increasingly want more than just a typical travel experience and are looking for something unique, immersive and memorable. Partnerships like this allow STB and tourism businesses to leverage Snap’s AR technology to offer visitors a new way to explore Singapore, and these efforts will help us stay ahead of the curve and set Singapore apart from other destinations. As we embark on this pilot, we welcome both locals and visitors to participate and provide feedback on it so we can continually innovate on such novel experiences,” says Wong Ming Fai, chief technology officer of the Singapore Tourism Board.

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Sophia Dominguez, director for AR Platform Partnerships & Ecosystem at Snap Inc, adds: “We are thrilled to leverage our Custom Location AR technology to provide more innovative and immersive experiences to both domestic and international travellers. With over 250 million Snapchatters engaging with AR daily on average, we look forward to seeing how visitors interact with these new AR Lenses at Haji Lane and how they can be used to create more immersive, interactive experiences in the future.”

The Lens experience for this pilot was built by Snap Lens Network partner Gowaaa, a Singapore-based AR development team. The team built those Lenses through Snap’s Lens Studio, which is a powerful application designed for artists and developers to build AR experiences for hundreds of millions of Snapchatters.

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