Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Bard Goes Broadband

The latest wireless broadband technology is being harnessed to give tourists a more modern experience of William Shakespeare's home town in Warwickshire, it was announced today.

Visitors to the bard's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon will be able to hire hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to get an online insight into the town's cultural and artistic heritage.

Project director Tim Luft believes using new technology could breathe new life into tourist destinations whose popularity has until now relied solely on guidebooks and word-of-mouth.

'The launch of Stratford Unplugged marks an exciting new chapter for tourism in one of the UK's most famous and best-loved towns,' he said.
'Using the latest BT wireless broadband in this innovative way will enable us to give people a completely new visitor experience.

'Given Stratford's rich heritage, it is fitting that it should take centre stage in taking UK tourism into a new age to preserve such a significant era by embracing exciting developing communications technologies in this way, to the benefit of the town and the industries upon which it depends for its livelihood.'

The scheme, which uses public access wireless broadband hotspots, has been developed by BT with Coventry University, Staffordshire University, Hewlett Packard and Stratford town centre's management team.

Information on attractions is beamed via tiny aerials near the most popular attractions to the pocket diary-sized device as visitors pass.

Users can also browse the Internet on the move as well as send photographs to family and friends as they take in the sights.

Frank Mills, BT's regional director for the West Midlands, said: "The 12-month pilot is the first of its kind in the UK and marks a significant step in the development and growth of e-tourism."

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