Cutting-edge 5G technology is being harnessed in North Yorkshire to create an exciting digital experience at one of the county’s most popular visitor attractions.
The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created within a four acre garden near Middleham.
The attraction is taking part in the Mobile Access North Yorkshire Project (MANY) by using 5G technology to turn its popular brass rubbing experience into an interactive, augmented-reality digital quest adventure.
One of the MANY partners, Flo-culture, a specialist in digital audience engagement, is working with Forbidden Corner to enable state-of-the-art mobile technology to enhance the experience for its 120,000 annual visitors with the creation of a digital adventure.
Johnny and Wendy Reeves, who have managed the Forbidden Corner for over 20 years, said taking part in the project and being able to harness the latest digital technology marks a real departure from the past when they were unable to provide customers with even a basic mobile signal. They said: “Our customers are loyal. But we want to exceed their expectations and offer them more so they can experience something different every time whilst rewarding loyalty.
“It is exciting that the 5G network, which MANY will bring, will enable us to develop this type of adventure”.
This is one example of how the £6.4 million MANY project, which is part funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will explore the benefits of an enhanced digital experience to tourist attractions and how this can support rural communities – both socially and economically - into the future.
Katherine Pearson, Managing Director of Flo-culture explains ‘A 5G network will allow us to immerse visitors at The Forbidden Corner in a real-time augmented reality experience. The uniqueness of The Forbidden Corner will be brought to life in a totally new way.
“This is one of our solutions which will help the attraction respond to the expectation that today’s visitors have: reliable mobile connectivity, and access to enhanced experiences via their own mobile devices. Providing this solution in such a beautiful rural environment will allow The Forbidden Corner to compete on a level playing field with their digitally connected urban neighbours’.
Johnny and Wendy Reeves added: “ Developing this type of digital quest with Katherine and her team will give our customers an improved and enhanced experience, and will serve as a great reminder of their day. We hope it will motivate them to return again, with their friends, in the not-too-distant future, also allowing us to take advantage of the domestic staycationers post Covid-19.’
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure said ‘Our £200 million investment in 5G is proving to be a game changer for the tourism industry as we harness cutting-edge technology to enable Britain’s best-loved attractions to create exciting new experiences. I’m pleased The Forbidden Corner is the latest to join our 5G revolution and look forward to seeing how the magic of augmented reality will give tourists even more of a reason to pay a visit as we build back better from the pandemic’.
North Yorkshire County Council Executive Member for Access, Cllr Don MacKenzie commented ‘Prior to last year, Yorkshire’s tourism industry was worth £9 billion per year. The whole industry was affected by Covid-19 and on top of that some of our rural attractions have been limited by the lack of reliable connectivity in order to keep in contact with their customers. The 5G network delivered by MANY will offer The Forbidden Corner the chance to build back better by offering their visitors something new, interactive and fun, whilst proving a concept which could be scaled up for others in the area.
By developing an enhanced experience for The Forbidden Corner, the project hopes to encourage visitors to stay longer.
MANY’s 5G network is due to go live in Coverdale by the end of May 2021. On site, trials of the new The Forbidden Corner’s digital quest are expected to take place during the summer.