For sure you have heard something about them, but as a recent invention I think it is good to talk a bit about what is it about and which benefits can it bring to have the support of an interactive travel guide during your trip. Also, I'll look in which places having some interactive travel guidance can be more suitable.
As a starting point, let's look at what we are talking about. I define an interactive travel guide as an electronic device that is aware of its position thanks to a GPS system for open wide spaces or an internal system of sensors for closed or little areas. This system detects where a tourist is and starts playing a recording teaching different cultural aspects of the place where the traveler is placed. Instead of the need of carrying lots of books and papers to your destination to make your trip a cultural experience or needing to get a guide explaining to a crowd of people, you can get this cultural immersions on your own way, either if you are in a museum or traveling with a campervan through a whole country.
Benefits of the system? It really depend on where you are going to use it. As a first example, I'll put the wax museum in Salzburg, Austria. They have a device you connect to your ears which detects areas you cross in the museum and starts with an explanation of what it is about. This allows people to go into the experience at their own speed, repeat explanations if they haven't understood, and it is an advantage for the museum guys because they don't need to pay for a tour guide.
On the other hand, if your purpose is to go on a road trip across a country for example, I'll put the example of a device made in New Zealand for exploring the country. In fact, this device was the first one in it's class and many tourism organizations worldwide are buying the idea to improve the immersion experience to visitors. It uses a GPS system that is connected to the radio of your vehicle and it starts playing a recording every time your vehicle enters any area of special interest. It includes recommendations on hot spots, cultural background, history about the place, legends and myths, or it even recommends a restaurant or a special off the beaten path place where you can spend some nice time.
Advantages are many. You no longer need the help of a book for understanding more deeply any region you cross, you get some good advice about the places you visit and recommendations on what to do and you don't need of course any guide who travels with you in the campervan! The guys running this project have it always open for adding new places with new recordings and even ask New Zealanders to contribute with any of their personal experience in the country.
Finally, thinking ahead in the future, this device could be combined with audiovisual material (not of course while you are driving!) and even incorporate some interactive functionality that could allow you to explore a certain zone with a menu every time you enter it or, in the case of New Zealand and road tours in general, every time you tell the device your vehicle is stopped.
If you are planning a trip and want some help, you'll find it at Travel Planning Help. There you can also ask to see if any interactive travel guides in your destination are available to make your journey more intense.
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