Talking app to offer visitors High Street guide

Gavin Neate with David Keenan and his seeing eye dog Royal. Picture: Greg Macvean
Gavin Neate with David Keenan and his seeing eye dog Royal. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A “TALKING” app revealing the secrets of the Royal Mile has been unveiled.

The guide – called Edinburgh Up Close, Footsteps Through Time – is the result of a collaboration between the city council and Leith-based Neatebox.

The app will undoubtedly help us to tell Edinburgh’s story to countless tourists

RICHARD LEWIS

Available as a free download, it enables residents and visitors to choose their own walking tour through the warren of closes connected to the Royal Mile.

Designers said users would be able to trace the area’s history while also learning about surrounding buildings and their famous residents.

Without the need for a wi-fi connection, High Street visitors will be alerted when they reach landmarks such as Chessels Court – the site of Deacon Brodie’s last burglary and capture. Images will then pop up on users’ phones, with storytellers providing narratives aimed at bringing the past to life.

The design of Edinburgh Up Close makes it accessible to all ages and abilities, as well as those with impaired sight or hearing. It is also believed to be the first time such technology has been used to provide an alternative to the traditional audio guide.

Gavin Neate, chief executive of Neatebox, said: “We are really breaking the mould with Edinburgh Up Close. Most mobile tour guides are audio only or simple picture guides, meaning those with disabilities often miss out.

“What we’ve managed to achieve is the creation of an app that tells the story of the Royal Mile in different formats to suit different ages, tastes and needs – including disabled and visually and hearing impaired users.”

He added: “It’s been great fun working with the council’s museums team to uncover the history of the Royal Mile and I’m so excited to see it launch. We’re not the first to use beacon technology, but we’re certainly the first to use it in this way.”

City bosses said the technology would help residents rediscover the Royal Mile’s history.

Councillor Richard Lewis, culture leader, said: “Neatebox was the winner of the council’s Edinburgh Apps competition last year and it is fantastic to see their ideas take shape and come to life.

“Once downloaded, the ‘beacon technology’ means on-the-go internet is not needed which will be appealing to international visitors.

“Launched in time for Edinburgh’s busy festival months, the app will undoubtedly help us to tell Edinburgh’s story to countless tourists but I think residents themselves will also enjoy rediscovering the Old Town – so much of the city’s history took place off the main High Street.”