App to help explore Mid Sussex’s country garden

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There’s a new way to explore a Mid Sussex gardens as Wakehurst embraces app technology.

New outdoor iBeacons allow visitors to Kew’s country garden to have information at their fingertips in a matter of seconds.

By downloading a free app either at home or when they arrive at the gardens, the mobile phone or tablet can unlock a host of facts and activities when visitors pass the beacons, which are hidden across the 500-acre estate at Ardingly.

Jon Little, who headed the project, said: “We have over 50 iBeacons across Kew’s two sites, Wakehurst and Kew Gardens.

“This technology has been used to great effect in indoor setting such as museums and shopping malls, but we decided to test its capability in the wilds of our botanic gardens. The initial results prove most promising as we can unlock many of the secrets about some of our rare and beautiful plants.”

Currently the Discover Kew app is available, free, for iPhone users with the Android app due for release soon. Search for Discover Kew in the App Store.

Interpretation producer Astrid Krumins said: “Phone or iPad in hand, visitors can explore Wakehurst’s new Brilliant Bark Trail.

“You can meet eight of our fabulous North American trees exploring their stunning bark and uncover some of Kew’s science stories behind these trees. There’s something for everyone whether you crave facts about the species or enjoy hands-on challenges.”

Designed by leading US app developer Dot3 who pioneered iBeacon use in the UK, the app doesn’t need wi-fi to find each location; the beacons simply ping necessary information to devices running the app.

A GPS map shows where the user is in relation to the Brilliant Bark trees and key features at Wakehurst such as the Millennium Seed Bank, restaurant, toilets and the Visitor Centre.

The pilot will run for three months before being evaluated. If successful it could expand into seasonal trails and visitor information.