On a rainy Sunday in late January, my family and I decided to join the ranks of Professor James Moriarty’s army of evil henchmen. This choice was made after a walk around Marleybone, a scenic part of London I had rarely visited before. We had been following a series of clues texted to us by Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes’s assistant Doctor Watson (who knew they had the technology?). These clues took us to a variety of tourist spots around Marleybone, which included multiple pubs, a museum, and many of the area’s hidden gems. Throughout our journey we had the option to side with either Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes, his assistant Doctor Watson, or the London Metropolitan Police. But unfortunately, in this instance, evil prevailed.
This immersive experience was developed by Hidden City, a real-world gaming company that integrates mobile technology and real-world assets with traditional treasure hunts and puzzles to create wholly unique experiences for their customers. The company offers a variety of different experiences across the city, from Marylebone to Shoreditch and everywhere in between, which reflect the history of these areas. For the most part, the games involve following clues or solving riddles that are texted to your phone using an automated service. These clues direct customers through safe, pedestrianised areas and avoid London’s busier roads and high streets. As well as technology, Hidden City works with local businesses to help give their games a real-world edge. The clues would often lead you into locations around Marylebone, where members of staff would participate in the games, providing puzzles based around actual objects like books containing lists of deadly poisons and pieces of evidence from an unsolved murder.
As with all tech-orientated tourist attractions, the immersive gaming experiences Hidden City provides will develop further once 5G networks are integrated en masse across the UK. As suggested by Bristol Futures Global’s research into the effects of 5G technology on Smart Tourism, 5G networking will increase location accuracy and lead to lower latency between the network and the user’s device, which would represent a significant opportunity for companies like Hidden City. With increased location accuracy, their experiences could become even more immersive and engaging, incorporating reactive, location-based events into these games. Equally, with improved location services Hidden City could make sure their customers don’t lose their way while following their directions. On top of this, with lower latency times, Hidden City could potentially incorporate video, augmented, and virtual reality elements into their games without having to worry about streaming or download speeds.
Imagine if, instead of just texting or listening to Sherlock Holmes through our phones, my family and I could stream a video triggered by our location or even have the famous detective appear in front of us. Perhaps then we would have sided with him over Moriarity. Of course, umil 5G networking is adopted across the UK, we can only imagine what is possible. But for more in-depth research into the potential impact of 5G on Smart Tourism click here.