Smartphone tool to give Greyfriars Bobby a voice

Greyfriars Bobby could have a QR code to make him 'talk'. Picture: Joey Kelly
Greyfriars Bobby could have a QR code to make him 'talk'. Picture: Joey Kelly
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THEY are monuments commemorating two of the world’s best-known canines – and now plans have been hatched that could see them “come to life”.

Designers have devised a smartphone tool which enables statues of Greyfriars Bobby and Bum the dog to tell their stories to curious visitors and passers-by.

Pooch monuments in San Diego – Edinburgh’s American sister city – have been enhanced with a QR (quick response) code allowing smartphone owners to receive calls of recorded monologues about the canines’ colourful lives.

And city leaders here have said they have not dismissed the idea of launching a similar service in the Capital.

Designed by Danish firm True Stories, the new technology has been billed as a tool capable of waking the “sleeping” pair of celebrity dogs. The installation means visitors to the US city’s historic Gas Lamp museum and park will be able to step back in time and listen to the pair “tell” their tales. Started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and later rolled out to Helsinki and London, it is the first time the technology has been made available in America.

There is also a statue of Bum the dog in West Princes Street Gardens.

Managers at Greyfriars Kirk said they would be happy to co-operate in any plan to bring the technology to Edinburgh.

Administrator Mirella Yandoli said: “It sounds like a lovely idea and we are happy to be involved in some way.

“I think it would be good to promote the stories in a different way – and if it’s about San Diego as well, it just helps to create links.”

Designers said swiping a phone over QR code-enhanced signs at the base of the two statues would connect listeners with three-footed Bum – San Diego’s town dog – and Edinburgh’s own Greyfriars Bobby.

The phone will then ring, with monologues beginning once the listener answers.

Any application to install a QR code on the Greyfriars Bobby statue at the bottom of George IV Bridge would face planning hurdles, however.

First unveiled in November 1873, the statue to the legendary Skye terrier is also Edinburgh’s smallest listed building.

Councillor Richard Lewis, culture leader, said: “The story of this loyal friend has won the hearts of millions of people around the world.

“San Diego’s Talking Statues initiative is a great idea, and I hope it links international audiences with the wonderful story of Greyfriars Bobby.

“Perhaps it might even entice people to travel to Edinburgh to see Greyfriars Kirkyard and the original dog collar and bowl on display in the council’s Museum of Edinburgh.”

He added: “The QR code is certainly an immediate way to bring this lovely story to life. We’ll certainly watch the project with interest.”

john-paul.holden@edinburghnews.com