Tourist Voice Information System
Technology set to enhance the quality of international and domestic visitors experiences is one step closer to commercialisation.
Tourist Information Voice System (TIVS) technology pioneered by Sustainable Tourism CRC will undergo trials in Western Australia’s iconic Swan Valley and Outback destinations at the end of this month.
Developed by Sustainable Tourism CRC in partnership with University of Queensland, the TIVS provides real time multilingual commentaries on points of interest coupled with maps and audio-visuals at the touch of a button. Now, with the trials in WA, the TIVS software and prototypes will be tested with assistance from DriveWA.com.
Geo map coding and travel content has been produced in partnership with the Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), DriveWA.com, Tourism WA and MapData Sciences.
“TIVS has been developed for bus group tours, tag-along tours as well as tour guide training,” explains Devon Nugent, Research Assistant at the University of Queensland.
“The application is loaded onto a laptop or a larger mobile device. It delivers audio commentary as well as video, images and text to groups or individuals based on their location, the direction they are travelling, the speed they are travelling and the interest of the group. In all, there are approximately thirty factors TIVS considers when it decides what commentary to send you.
“Every single person could easily get a very different commentary. It basically is a location aware and feature triggered commentary system.” Users can also view a map on screen allowing them to see where they are, where the vehicle is, what is around them or where they are going. At the same time the program flicks in and out of showing videos and images as the tour is happening.
Two prototypes have been developed to carry the TIVS technology, one for smart phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) and the other for notebook computers. The former is matched to independent travellers and the latter for tour groups.
Typical users of this type of technology already exist in Europe explains Ross MacCulloch, Destination Manager at Tourism WA. The states peak tourism body is a major STCRC partner and supporter of innovations for the tourism industry. Tourism WA assisted the TIVS trial by supplying valuable tourism data.
“I have seen this type of technology used in the UK and it proved invaluable to coach operators allowing them to concentrate on driving and not delivering a full guided tour," he explains.
“Language issues were also a major issue and this reduced the cost and necessity of additional translators or staff in a work environment where staffing shortages will be a big issue into the future.
“Tourism WA also sees the safety information possibilities of this information, not only the map references but also as a tool to remind international drivers that they are in an area of high emu populations or that they should mind cattle on the roads in the Kimberley. It may save the numerous single vehicle accidents this State is renowned for.”
DriveWA.com Managing Director, Chris Pye is excited at the prospect of integrating the new technology into his existing drive tourism website. “We believe the prototype has many commercial applications for tag-a-long tours, bus tours and independent 4WD trips,” he states.
“The future of Australian tourism is very much about improving the level of service we can offer people while they seek to travel our huge country seeing the outstanding iconic destinations Australia has to offer.
“TIVS is a wonderful innovation for people seeking to run and establish all types of group tours, from a school father and son getaway to a Variety Club Bash and almost every sporting and shared interest group one can think of.”
Together with a team of Sustainable Tourism CRC researchers and industry partners, Mr Pye will test the efficiency of the TIVS technology in real conditions to see how well it works.
“Western Australia is the best place to test this TIVS system – our long distances and ruggedly beautiful countryside will provide the best possible test bed. If it will work here it will work anywhere,” Mr Pye explains. “We start the field trip in the Swan Valley region which will give the TIVS a workout in an area where there is quite a lot of points of interest within a relatively small area. This will test the TIVS ability to sort and interpret multiple points of interest.
“Then we will take it on a much longer voyage into three of the main iconic destinations in Outback WA, testing it under harsher conditions. We want to test the ability of the GPS to prompt audio-visual material a certain distance in front of the point of interest. “DriveWA.com provides self-drive touring, digital mapping and trip functions. It’s already part of our business to assist people to plan their trips and to provide them with maps and data and points of interest.
“We would like to provide people with a hired PDA so they can sit in their car as they travel around WA to make sure that they get to the points of interest that interest them, such as nature walks, historic buildings.
“For people like ourselves, who want to promote self-touring, it is a terrific opportunity to assist international visitors or people from around Australia to start travelling and for them to know that they’re not going to miss out on some of the really good things simply because they can’t find them.”