Tourism Red Deer gifting ghosts with technology
You soon won’t need a crystal ball or Ouija board to communicate with Red Deer ghosts. A smartphone will do the trick.
Tourism Red Deer is using 21st Century technology to connect with some notable residents from the city’s past, including Rev. Leonard Gaetz, Hazel Braithwaite, Francis Galbraith and Julietta Sorensen. Those still among the living will be able to scan a symbol posted next to seven of the bronze statues in Red Deer’s historical Ghost collection, and obtain a first-person narrative from the piece’s namesake about his or her role in the city’s past.
In addition to Gaetz, who helped found Red Deer; Braithwaite, who was a women’s rights advocate; Galbraith, the City of Red Deer’s first mayor and founder of the Red Deer Advocate; and Sorensen, who along with her husband Gordon helped create the city’s transit system; other Ghosts being brought to life include Doris Forbes and her famous pet beaver Mickey, a pair of firefighters responding to a call with their horse-drawn wagon, and a railway worker trying to retrieve his money from a dog.
Liz Taylor, executive director of Tourism Red Deer, said the ghosts will come to electronic life early this month. The initiative, which was funded by the Hotels Red Deer consortia and Travel Alberta, grew out of a Red Deer 2013 Centennial Committee project that saw local actors assume the identities of the Ghost characters for public events this summer.
“We got so excited about what the Centennial Committee was doing with the Ghosts,” said Taylor. “It was such a cool idea, we thought if we could capture that and make it permanent. . . .”
The actors were recorded while in character and the resulting clips transformed into video and audio bios that can be accessed wirelessly in front of the statues using a smartphone or tablet computer.
“It was really to have fun with a new technology,” said Taylor of the historic legacy.
“Augmented reality is really new.”
The project should also create a new tourist attraction, she added, and help publicize and preserve the city’s history.
“We’re also going to take the images and use them on Facebook to get the stories out.”
Tourism Red Deer hopes to expand its augmented reality project to include more Ghosts, said Taylor.
The Aurasma app through which the Ghost bios can be accessed is available for free at the iTunes App Store and the Google Apps Marketplace.