Imagine that you’re getting off a train in a new city. You’ve never been here before and you have just a few hours to explore. How would you go about finding your way around? Would you use a map, either digital or paper? Or would you just wander and hope for the best?
Making it easier for people to explore new cities is just one challenge for local councils and tourist boards.
But introducing external LED displays to highlight particular attractions or point the way to key landmarks could be one solution that takes off.
Last month, the ‘Hack the City’ challenge came to Cambridge, where teams were tasked with coming up with innovative ways to help first-time visitors to the city find their way around and make the most of what’s on offer.
The Cambridge Network revealed that a number of ideas came out of the event at the end of November, including the idea of having digital wayfinding signs on lampposts, that could highlight themed routes or even feature voice recognition technology allowing them to be multilingual.
While there were a number of creative options suggested, including using local people to provide wayfinding information and act as tourist guides, another thing to come out of the exercise was a need for more static wayfinding information, whether in the form of directional signs or maps.
The challenges faced in Cambridge are unlikely to be unique, with many towns and cities in the UK also needing to improve their signage.
With the new technology being developed in the sector, it’s likely that in the future LED screens will do much more than simply provide information, giving users a chance to interact with signs and select the content they want or need.
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