Technology As Tour Guide

Technology As Tour Guide

This dot tells you more than “You Are Here” — it also tells where you can go and how to get there.

NYC & Co. Visitor CenterDESIGNERS: WXY Architecture

( and Urban Design Local Projects (

CONCEPT: The visitor center is uniquely positioned as a seamless integration of architecture and technology; it’s a true information space, designed to offer visitors simple answers and exciting experiences at their level of engagement. Visitors with quick questions can have the top 100 questions answered in any of ten languages. Tourists looking to explore can create a custom guide to New York, searching interactive maps to create local experiences out of NYC&Co.’s extensive database. These guides can be emailed, sent to cell phones, printed, or loaded into “flyby,” a large-format display that flies visitors around New York City for a visual preview of their experience.

answered in any one of ten languages and provide general information plus photographic step-by-step directions, hours, fees, and tips for the top ten NYC attractions. Also available are quick overviews on any number of seasonal events happening that day. Visitors may also use these multi-lingual, ADA accessible kiosks to obtain information on transportation, money exchange, restrooms, and other basic information. All information accessed on the screens can be emailed to the visitor.INTERACTIVE MAP TABLE: 68-inch DLP Custom Tracking and Optics Projection Tables [3]. The system allows users to move a physical “You are here” dot, about the size of a CD, around a large, 6- x 4- foot interactive map of New York.

  • The tables are touch sensitive, and also recognize the movement of the physical “You are here” dot. Wherever visitors choose to move, they will discover NYC&Co. recommended restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues. Visitors can select from ten categories of venue type. The map table also gives visitors access to special content such as geocoded Flickr photos that show the life of the city in all quarters in near-real time.
  • As visitors discover places of interest, they are given the option to save these to a custom guidebook. At the end of their session, visitors can send these collections to themselves via email or SMS. Both of these options give the visitor links, basic location information, and custom on-the-fly Google maps to each of their locations. Because the guidebooks are keyed to a unique code on each “You are here” disc, visitors can take these disks off the table

and use them to trigger other interactions in other parts of the visitor center. In the back left of the room, visitors are able to print custom guidebooks including maps of the locations they saved on the table. At the back right, visitors are able to see a custom created Google Earth flythrough of the city based on their saved venues.

MAP TABLE SOFTWARE: The table interfaces are programmed in Actionscript 3, and run in the browser as Flex applications. All content is loaded dynamically from XML files that are updated nightly. NYC&Co. has the ability to dynamically change search categories, venues, features, sponsorship information, and even the Flickr feed — ensuring that the tables always reflect the most up-todate content. The sensing for the tables is done using custom-built C++ computer vision software.

visitors will be shown a large-format Google Earth view of their journey around Manhattan and the outer boroughs. This experience has been made possible through a partnership with Google by utilizing the Google Earth API software.

Visitors who wish to gain more information from local New Yorkers can access tips from anyone of the celebrities featured in NYC&Co.’s “Just Ask the Locals” campaign by placing individualized celebrity postcards on the glassplate reader for a high-definition video of their favorite New York City local. Both of these activities will be displayed on a high-resolution seamless plasma wall. When the wall is not engaged in a mapping or celebrity presentation, the wall will revert to a high-definition presentation of New York City landscapes.


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