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Space Needle app launches new digital experiences

SpaceNeedleApp

The Space Needle app includes augmented reality capabilities

A new mobile application geared for tourists visiting Seattle’s Space Needle includes a high degree of functionality and helps weave the entire experience together with a range of on-site and at-home interactive opportunities. 

The Space Needle mobile app includes an augmented reality feature and a guide to other attractions around the area, among other capabilities. It also helps connect visitors with the Space Needle’s other digitally enhanced features, such as a touch-screen experience on site and innovative new photo tools. 

“We decided that we should have an app that gives what you expect, as well as some things you don’t expect,” said Karen Olson, vice president of marketing at the Space Needle. “Our guests all arrive with this computer in their pockets, and we wanted to be able to leverage that to help enhance their visit. 

“We took the approach that the app should be both functional and fun.” 

Built as a symbol of the future for the Age of Space 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle towers 520 feet above the ground and often serves as the starting point for many visitors to the Seattle area. 

Tool for tourists
The Space Needle app is designed not only to enhance the experience at the Space Needle itself, but also to help visitors explore other area attractions, such as Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Museum of History & Industry. In addition, some of the app’s augmented reality functionality extends to other locations around the region. 

“If you are an explorer, this is the best tool to have in your pocket to see Seattle,” said Ms. Olson. “That’s part of the ‘fun’ aspect of the app — How do you see Seattle in a new way?”  

One of the app’s features allows users experience augmented reality by pointing their smartphone or tablet at various designated areas around the Space Needle called “Space Spots.” Users can watch the Space Needle rise up out of the ground with fireworks, or into a Jetsons-like space setting, among several other options. 

Inside the attraction, users can point their mobile device at the floor and look down into the restaurant below or see “through” a virtual glass floor to the ground 50 stories below. Other augmented reality experiences are being added around the city where users can also enjoy the app. 

The app is just one of a host of digitally enhanced experiences at the Space Needle. Others include a massive digital “SkyPad” — essentially the world’s largest iPad at a whopping 20 feet by 8 feet — that displays thousands of photos taken throughout the 52-year history of the Space Needle. And the 520 Teleporter digital kiosks use Microsoft’s Photosyth technology to allow visitors to experience virtual 3D adventures in places like Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. 

Earlier this summer the Space Needle launched SpaceBook, which allows visitors to create personalized photo experiences and save them to an online memory book. Additional photo experiences are planned for late this summer, including the “SkyHigh Selfie.” 

Creative partners 
The Space Needle worked with local design shop Creature to create the digital experience, including the mobile app. Creature had also designed the Web site, and it crafted the app to mimic the look and feel of the site — which includes such unique touches as upward scrolling to capture the spirit of the towering structure. 

The app developer was London-based Fuerte. Other partners in the on-site digital experience included Group Delphi, Idea Gateway, Microsoft, OK Rocket, Olson Kundig Architects, Schuchart, Stimulant, Streamline Solutions and Voda Studios. 

Given that Seattle is such a hub for technical innovation, and that the Space Needle symbolizes a vision of the future, Ms. Olson said the whole experience, including the app, was created to reflect that sense of marvel. 

“In the soft launch, people have been raving about it,” she said. “Guests are engaging with it. The biggest feedback we have had here is that families want this. They want their kids to be engaged, because if the kids are not engaged, the families are not enjoying the experience.” 

Ms. Olson joined the Space Needle about a year ago specifically to enhance the site’s digital presence after a career in technology and marketing. She said the latest efforts represent a look toward the 22nd century, much like the 1962 World’s Fair was look toward the 21st century. 

“We had our 50th anniversary not too long ago,” she said. “This is about looking ahead to the next 50 years.”

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Content, Space Needle, Seattle, tourism, travel, augmented reality

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