The West of England Combined Authority’s 5G Smart Tourism Project has had its first trial at the Roman Baths. Visitors had the chance to try out futuristic technology which immersed them in the site’s rich history.
Those taking part in the trial were invited to use a smartphone app to download and view virtual reality and augmented reality content at three locations around the Roman Baths. The app then told the story of three periods in the World Heritage site’s history from the mythical discovery of the hot springs by King Bladud, the Baths falling into disrepair when the Romans left and the renovation in the Victorian times. The three locations were animated within the app by Bristol-based Aardman Animations which allowed users to discover interesting information about various parts of the site.
The 5G Smart Tourism project is being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and is funded by the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport. It brings together 25 organisations and will see the development of a testbed to demonstrate 5G capability, establishing the West of England, including Bath, as a world leader in the development of advanced fixed and mobile communications systems. WECA and B&NES Council are working with a number of partners, including the BBC, to help test the project by hosting the pilot events at the Roman Baths.
Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council, said: “It’s brilliant that we can trial this with people in Bath.”
The trial being led by WECA involves additional 5G infrastructure being rolled out at the Roman Baths, as well as at sites in Bristol with further trials planned throughout early 2019.
Although 5G is not yet available for public use and the Roman Baths haven’t implemented VR to their tours, the trials will demonstrate how 5G will enable new visitor experiences.
As well as supporting the visitor economy, super-fast and ultra-reliable 5G is expected to offer an increased level of connectivity and new opportunities for businesses, including better remote working and is likely to bring significant business growth opportunities for the region’s tech sector.