If you’re lucky enough to be able to fly out in this time of, frankly, privileged travel, you might want to revisit your old favorites at our north-western neighbor. There, you can view 360-degree historical panoramas featuring photos or illustrations by young artists by just using your phone.

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Wide-spread international leisure travel might not be the reality for Filipinos any time soon given our current situation, but our neighbors are giving us something to look forward to. The Tourism Commission of Hong Kong recently launched the City in Time tourism project, which integrates augmented reality (AR) and multimedia technologies to combine historical panoramas and real-life surroundings.

Together with lively animations and special sound effects, the project lets locals and tourists travel through time and enjoy enriched visual and audio experiences with their smartphones.

Tourism comeback

To experience 360-degree historical panoramas featuring heritage photos or illustrations by young Hong Kong artists, locals and tourists can scan the AR markers installed at designated locations using their smartphones with the “City in Time” mobile app downloaded.

The mobile app is also equipped with a selfie function that enables users to share their City in Time experience with their friends on social media platforms. They can also understand more about the history of Hong Kong by browsing photos and information of the iconic spots with the mobile app.

“City in Time is a key project to promote cultural, creative and smart tourism, in which locals and tourists can enjoy a unique 360-degree AR experience easily with a dedicated mobile app along with redesigned visitor sign poles,” Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau. “Despite the disruptions to travel as a result of the epidemic, we will continue to strengthen the appeal of Hong Kong’s attractions to prepare for the return of visitors by showcasing the city’s distinctive culture and history.”

Old favorites

The first phase of the City in Time project has been rolled out in seven designated locations in Central and six designated locations in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The seven locations in Central are Edinburgh Place, Chater Road (near the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong), Des Voeux Road Central (near Chater Garden), Statue Square, Pedder Street (near World-Wide House), Hollywood Road (near PMQ) and Pottinger Street (near Tai Kwun), while the six locations in Tsim Sha Tsui are Kowloon Park Drive (near the YMCA of Hong Kong), Nathan Road (near the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers), Salisbury Garden, Salisbury Road (near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre), the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower and the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade.

The AR markers are installed on redesigned visitor sign poles at these locations. Each sign pole has a different colour combination to complement elements of local architecture and reflect the tastes of Hong Kong.

The mobile app is available for free download at the Apple App Store and Google Play. Locals and tourists can also embark on virtual journeys on the City in Time website (cityintime.hk).  The Yeung Kin Man Chair Professor of Media Art at the City University of Hong Kong, Professor Jeffrey Shaw, and his team were commissioned by the Tourism Commission to develop and produce the City in Time project, which will be gradually rolled out in other locations.

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