Edinburgh Book Trails literary app by NI firm makes Guardian’s list of Top 20 apps

22 Aug 2013

Allan MacDonald, director, Purple TV; Ian Rankin; Jerry Staple, technical director, Origin Partners; and Margot McCuaig, director, Purple TV

Edinburgh Book Trails, a literary app built by Holywood, Co Down-based Origin Partners in partnership with Scottish TV station Purple TV, has made it into The Guardian’s list of Top 20 apps.

The Edinburgh Book Trails app features Scotland’s capital city, which has a deep and diverse literary scene. 

It supports the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which runs from 10–26 August. About 250,000 book enthusiasts retreat to Edinburgh to get a literary fix during these 16 days.

“Origin Partners teamed up with Purple TV to develop a series of City Adventure Apps that would come under the brand ‘Purple Trails’,” explained Origin Partners’ commercial director Jonathan Kelly.

“By marrying the latest digital technology with traditional television production, the objective was to create a platform that would allow people to interact with cultural and sporting heritage in a fun and engaging way. We wanted people to be able to experience places and moments and recognise what makes our cities remarkable, through rich multimedia easily accessible on their smartphone.”

Augmented reality

The Edinburgh Book Trails app also uses augmented reality to enable users to look through Purple Goggles to find other places and points of interest nearby that aren’t necessarily literary based.

“There are many trail, guide and scavenger hunt-style apps already in the marketplace and we wanted to avoid the formulaic or template style approach,” Origin Partners’ technical director Jerry Staple explained. 

“Our research indicated that the app needed to be very engaging and challenging for a discerning audience, so we looked at sophisticated game platforms and took some inspiration from these.

“Users can explore an extensive database of places and points of interest and when visiting them the app provides historic and educational content, along with video introductions and interviews with famous authors. There are also ‘Canned Trails’, which are essentially mini trails around the city, so if you have limited time or you want a trail based on a particular theme, then you’ve got options.  

“Meanwhile, ‘The Game Trail’ provides a guide around significant points of literary interest in Edinburgh, but you must answer questions at each point on the trail and collect clues to solve the mystery of the stolen manuscript. Complete the trail successfully and you have the opportunity to add your own piece of creative writing to the Book Trail Legacy Wall,” Staple said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years