NHB and NParks launch AR trail as the nation commemorates its bicentennial

National Heritage Board and National Parks Board are inviting Singaporeans to experience history for themselves through an augmented reality (AR) trail as the nation commemorates its bicentennial. This comes with the launch of a sophisticated mobile application BALIKSG, which was developed by appointed experiential media agency Digimagic Communications (DIGIMAGIC) over nine months.

The trail, running along the Singapore River and around Fort Canning Hill, integrates significant events and places in Singapore's history in an interactive way. For example, users can witness the signing of the 1819 treaty at the Padang, eavesdrop on a probable conversation between Sir Stamford Raffles and Major William Farquhar when they set foot on Singapore, and revisit Fort Canning Hill back when it was known as Bukit Larangan and Government Hill.

National Heritage Board said in a press release that the immersive approach appeals to the tech-savvy generation and help more appreciate the significance behind Singapore's bicentennial commemoration. BALIKSG also aims to bridge locals to the museums and National Collection, which were key reference points for creating the contents of the AR trail.

However, experimenting with a solution that is not mature or widely introduced came with its challenges. The AR app, from conceptualisation and content creation to user experience and asset design, took a team of 25 at DIGIMAGIC over nine months to complete. For example, the team had to be onsite for some 30 rounds to ensure content and objects are aligned within a three-dimensional space.

“Given the speed of digital disruption, we should always find new ways to creatively innovate and engage audiences. By exploring alternative experiential solutions to drive content and marketing messages, we can contextualise information and provide relevancy depending on the receiving audience,” said Donald Lim, chief wizard of DIGIMAGIC.

BALIKSG can be downloaded for free through the App Store and Google Play store from 28 January 2019. Content on the Singapore River trail stops can be found on www.balik.sg, while more information on the Fort Canning trail will be made available in June 2019.

The use of modern technologies to spread awareness about Singapore Bicentennial and history is not new. In a bid to spark fruitful conversations at the start of January, the Singapore Bicentennial Office was behind an optical illusion to make the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles disappear. The Singapore Bicentennial, which was officially launched on 28 January , marks the 200 anniversary of the arrival of the British in 1819.