A Neate tourist app

Gavin and David Keenan and his seeing eye dog Royal
Gavin and David Keenan and his seeing eye dog Royal

Smartphone technology, designed by a Roslin man, is being used to highlight the hidden corners of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The ‘beacon tecnology’ devised by Gavin Neate allows visitors step back in time in this historic part of the city.

Edinburgh Up Close: Footsteps Through Time, the result of a collaboration between Edinburgh City Council and Gavin’s firm Neatebox, is now available to download for free from the Apple Store.

Initially launched for Apple IOS devices, the guide enables residents and visitors to choose their own walking tour through the warren of closes connected to the famous Royal Mile. Users will be able to trace the history linked to these streets to hear engaging stories about the alleyways and learn about the surrounding buildings and their famous or infamous residents.

Tapping into Bluetooth signals mapped along the Royal Mile to ‘push’ snippets of history to users’ devices, the design of Edinburgh Up Close makes it accessible to all ages, abilities, and sight and hearing impaired users.

Gavin said: “We are really breaking the mould with Edinburgh Up Close. Most mobile tour guides are audio only or simple picture guides, meaning those with disabilities often miss out. What we’ve managed to achieve is the creation of an app that tells the story of the Royal Mile in different formats to suit different ages, tastes and needs - including disabled and visually and hearing impaired users.

“It’s been great fun working with the council’s museums team to uncover the history of the Royal Mile and I’m so excited to see it launch. We’re not the first to use beacon technology, but we’re certainly the first to use it in this way.”

The app is free and available to download with Wi-Fi connection from the Apple App Store for Apple IOS devices only.