Tourist attraction brings virtual touch with new ultrafast broadband

A new digital quest has been launched at Forbidden Corner as part of our involvement in Mobile Access North Yorkshire – a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trial project.

The quest aims to enhance the experience for visitors by bringing the attraction’s characters to life virtually via 5G-enabled augmented reality and is already heightening the experience.

Cassandra Kitchin, from Morecambe, who visited the attraction with her husband, Roy, and their granddaughter, Angelica Walker, said the app was “really fun”.

And Kylie Simms, who lives near Bedale and visited The Forbidden Corner with her partner, Callum Bowness, said: “I really enjoyed the app – I particularly enjoyed taking photos of Callum with the dragon.”

The attraction’s staff have taken the opportunity to employ new state-of-the-art internet connections, which have been introduced to tackle the digital divide across North Yorkshire, to improve engagement with visitors and increase innovation.

The Forbidden Corner’s manager, Darren Weatherill, said: “Our customer base is loyal and we get a high proportion of visitors come back again and again.

“We have always wanted to be able to offer them more, keeping the attraction exciting and engaging, but until recently we have always lacked the connectivity to really explore this opportunity.”

Working with the scheme, the attraction is among the first locations to utilise the new network, which went live across the north end of Coverdale at the end of January.

Mr Weatherill added: “The work we have done with the MANY project has allowed us to deliver a digital quest based on our previous traditional brass rubbing. The app uses the latest technology to bring to life some of the characters around the Forbidden Corner – whether that is our frogs from Froggy Fountain or the dragon, which greets you on arrival.”

Staff at the Forbidden Corner have been working with officials from Flo-culture, a partner of the MANY project and a specialist in developing audience engagement applications.

The managing director of Flo-culture, Katherine Pearson, said: “The 5G network allows us to immerse visitors at 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 to respond to the expectation that today’s visitors have – reliable mobile connectivity, and access to enhanced experiences via their own mobile devices.”

Mr Weatherill added: “We have worked hard with the team at Flo-culture and the MANY project in our off-season to develop something that we are proud of, and the feedback we have received so far is overwhelming positive.

“We hope those customers who are due to come in the summer months will love it as much as we do, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to experience this new development.” 

MANY, which is a £6.4 million initiative, is exploring how the latest technology can help establish new enterprises in deeply rural areas, while also helping existing businesses to flourish.

It is also being seen as a key component of the Government’s levelling up agenda, which is aimed at tackling regional inequalities across the country, and helping to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.