FOR those who know my personal interest in anything tech-related, it wouldn’t be hard to understand why I jumped at the chance to road test a new locally made smartphone app.
And road test is exactly what we did for the Eden Trail pilot app just released by 2pi Software, with support from Sapphire Coast Tourism (SCT) and the Bega Valley Shire Council.
The app is a location-based tour guide taking users through the history of whaling and the killer whales of Eden.
It’s the first implementation of PhonicPath, an application that won a prestigious entrepreneur’s award at the 2013 Seachange Start-Up Camp.
And who better to share the Eden Trail road test with than developer Liam O’Duibhir and SCT general manager Anthony Osborne.
We start at the Eden Visitor Information Centre to set our bearings with the app’s use of GPS technology and Bluetooth connection to Liam’s car stereo.
From there the app directs us to Rotary Park and the lookout over Twofold Bay before narrating the history of Eden’s whaling fleet of small row boats and killer whale pods.
Liam explains the app is fully self-contained so does not require an Internet connection once downloaded to your phone.
Certain GPS waypoints are triggered when the car passes through them, starting the particular audio file assigned to that spot.
Also, any part of the narrated audio can be paused, rewound and played back at your convenience should you wish to get out of the car to explore further – which you really should!
The next leg of the journey is a long one from the busy port of Snug Cove to Boyd Tower.
However, the audio tour guide and snippets of ABC Hindsights’ program on Twofold Bay whalers accompany us along the way.
We hear of the names given to the killer whales who worked with whalers in their hunt.
The 97-foot blue whale harpooned in 1910 by a bloke standing in a 30-foot rowboat.
And the “healing properties of standing neck deep in a rotting whale carcass”!
Anthony says the app is a brilliant extension to SCT’s “Journeys” project and the Killer Whale Trail digital guide that is already accessible from QR codes scattered along the route’s main tourist attractions (Internet connection required for this one).
He also talks up the potential of user-generated trails like treasure hunts or corporate team-building exercises.
The Eden Trail app is narrated by Mick Martin and Sophie Campbell and I have to agree with Liam when he says he finds it “immersive” and offers “a different tourism experience”.
After Boyd Tower we check in at the Davidson Whaling Station and then the stunning Seahorse Inn (conveniently timed at lunch on our particular journey).
From there it is back to the trail’s end point of the Eden Killer Whale Museum with a new-found knowledge of the region’s history - and a few small tips on changes and improvements to the app itself.
For those keen to try it themselves, it is available for free from the iTunes App Store – search “Eden Trail”.
It comes with a feedback button to help improve on this pilot version, with those behind the project hoping to have a polished product ready for the whale season later this year.