Tapme Media launched their Open Air beacon app last week, as part of Groningen Open Air, an urban health initiative in four different locations in the city last week, organized by the Building the Future of Health convention. Even though the convention is over, you can still use the app, and it’s pretty cool!
The Open Air app is the first of its kind in Groningen, using beacon technology to send push notifications when you pass an interesting location. You’ll get a hidden story about health, sport, architecture and history, based on your current location, along with interesting trivia to get to know the city in a very interactive way.
“We wanted to come up with something where your surroundings interact with technology, instead of technology distracting you from it. It’s a great way to get off the couch, go for a walk and start exploring”, Tapme’s Martijn Runia explains. “We did a similar project for the Groninger Museum, but this was a very exciting pilot for us, because we had to make it work outside and place 40 different beacon sensors throughout the city. We’ve set up beacons in 4 different locations: the Ebbingekwartier, Martinikerkhof, Oosterpark and the city center.”
The beacon technology uses Bluetooth 4.0 and, using the app, sends a signal and you get a push notification when you’re close. “Fortunately, Bluetooth has come a long way”, Martijn explains. “It’s not as battery draining as it was in the old days and it’s very accurate.”
The hidden stories are a great read, For example, when you’re standing on the Maagdenbrug or the Sint Jansbrug (the two bridges in the northeast of the inner city); If you would be standing there late 19th century, you would probably be disgusted by the smell of the canal. These canals were basically an open sewer. Human feces were most often dumped in the canals, after the buckets full of feces were collected at every house. The canals became a breeding ground for terrible diseases like cholera and hepatitis. The waste products of factories became, besides the disposal of feces, a big problem for the quality of the water - and the quality of life.
Or when you’re walking around Het Blauwe Dorp in Oosterpark, you’ll get this one: “Mulock Houwer, the director of city planning then, designed Groningen’s own ‘Het Blauwe Dorp’ in 1918. It was built by the city to accommodate housing needs after the WWI. A diversity of low blocks created pleasant gardens and squares at the edge of the city, housing a wide variety of blue-collar workers at that time for a reasonable cost. The presence of this area now is a testament to the quality of these houses which were supposed to be broken down after 25 years. This area now has a monumental status and is a pleasant area to walk around, especially if you consider the housing conditions back in those times.”
Go out on an Urban Safari
The Open Air app is a cool way to rediscover Groningen and collect a couple of obscure factoids you can share with friends over a few beers. The free app is available on iOS and Android, so why not give it a go?
Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.tapme.groningenopenair
App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/groningen-open-air/id1115124923?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4