SINGAPORE: To enhance and elevate users’ experience at popular tourist destinations, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Google have partnered to bring location-based Augmented Reality (AR) experiences to Google Maps.

This innovative collaboration, unveiled at Google I/O 2024, will allow users to discover and engage with Singapore’s vibrant culture in a unique and immersive way.

The partnership builds upon the success of Merli’s Immersive Adventure—an innovative AR powered by Google’s ARCore and Geospatial Creator—which was available through STB’s Visit Singapore Travel Guide app, launched in January this year.

The STB will continue leveraging Google’s ARCore and Geospatial Creator technologies, enabling users to experience immersive AR content directly within the Google Maps mobile app.

Google has selected Singapore and Paris as part of their six-month pilot programme. Welcoming their partnership with STB, Eric Lai, Group Product Manager, AR, said:

“In collaboration with local partners like STB, we’re thrilled to unlock a new way for people to interact, engage and discover Singapore’s vibrant culture and history on Google Maps.

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Through location-based AR experiences, we’re making it more intuitive for over a billion users to discover this iconic city in a way like never before. This is just the beginning of a journey that will reshape how we explore the world.”

The STB has identified and onboarded over a dozen tourism stakeholders in Singapore to participate in this pilot programme, including retail malls along Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping belt, local heritage businesses in Chinatown, and popular museums and attractions in Sentosa and the Marina Bay Area. 

Currently, 30 places of interest have AR experiences, creating an immersive journey across key tourist places in Singapore. These tourism stakeholders will also be responsible for developing location-based AR experiences.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with Google to bring even more immersive and innovative experiences to travellers through AR on Google Maps.

This partnership underscores STB’s dedication to testing the use of frontier technologies which can revolutionise the visitor’s experience of tomorrow,” expressed Simon Ang, Director of the Collaboratory, Singapore Tourism Board. 

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Ang added that this initiative greatly benefits local businesses. They can leverage AR to tell different stories in the same spaces and have their content discoverable and accessible on Google Maps.

“It also benefits travellers as it aids their discovery of new places of interest and enriches them with a deeper understanding of Singapore’s rich history and culture through interactive storytelling.

STB is committed to embracing technology to enhance the visitor experience and differentiate Singapore from other destinations,” explained STB’s director Ang.

Chinatown Visitor Centre viewed on-site via Lens in Maps (Photo credit: STB)

STB plans to grow the number of location-based AR experiences in Google Maps beyond 30, with the goal of making Singapore the world’s first ‘AR City’ in Google Maps.

Once the location-based AR experience is available, the AR content will be visible remotely via Street View on the Google Maps mobile app.

Users near the various selected landmarks can discover the AR content on their mobile devices by scanning their surroundings using Lens in Maps, which overlays the physical surroundings in the real world.

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List of places of interest in Singapore to be the first with AR experiences on Google Maps 

Chinatown: Cantonese Opera Mural on Temple Street, Chinatown Complex, Chinatown Street Market, Chinatown Visitor Centre, Heritage Collection on Chinatown, Lim Chee Guan, Maxwell Food Centre, Peranakan Tiles Gallery, Thye Shan Medical Hall, Tong Heng Traditional Cantonese Pastries, Yue Hwa Chinese Products.

Civic District & Marina Bay: Farquhar’s Garden, First Botanic Garden on Armenian Street, Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, National Museum of Singapore, National Museum of Singapore – Lawn, Peranakan Museum, Singapore River, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Victoria Concert Hall.

Orchard Road: Design Orchard, Hilton Singapore Orchard, ION Orchard, Mandarin Gallery, Orchard Road, Somerset Precinct.

Sentosa: Fort Siloso, S.E.A. Aquarium (Resorts World Sentosa), Sensoryscape.