Free app set to socialise with public attractions

2 Dec 2011

Cianán Clancy, software developer, who created, pictured making his pitch today at Dublin Science Gallery is the brainchild of Irish IT strategist Cianán Clancy. The app is set to revolutionise how visitor attractions such as science museums, art galleries, zoos and heritage parks interact with visitors and vice-versa, bringing such tourist arenas into the digital age.

Today Clancy, who hails from Dublin, scooped the top prize in the Designs for Learning competiton.

Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin and NDRC Inventorium created the competition to find Ireland’s next educational entrepreneur: a person or company developing an app or internet business with the potential to transform how people are educated on everything from maths to art and history.

Learning Hunt saw off intense competition from four other start-ups to win the finals today.
Five teams pitched their start-up plans to judges at Dublin’s Science Gallery. Their goal was to convince the judges how their mobile platform or internet business could change the face of how we learn in Ireland.

TCD, Science Gallery and the NDRC set up the competition as they wanted to create a platform for ideas, be it  a product, service or sustainable business which would bridge formal and informal learning. The five finalists presented their ideas to a judging panel of leaders from business, formal and informal learning environments and curriculum experts in Ireland.

For his efforts Clancy obtained seed funding of €5,000 as well as continued mentoring support from Inventorium and Science Gallery teams for the next few months.
Speaking following the win today, Clancy said he was thrilled with the judges’ decision and the scope it will offer him to progress his ideas over the next year.
So what’s Learning Hunt all about?  
“It’s a mobile platform for public attractions to create their own mobile app or mobile game,” said Clancy this afternoon.  Amazingly, 95pc of the world’s attractions – from public art galleries to zoos – don’t have a mobile app as part of their portfolios right now.
Clancy explained it’s because they don’t have the financial resources to create such apps.
But LearningHunt is about to disrupt the educational space for the tourism and recreational industry. And the best thing? The app will be free for whatever entity wishes to deploy it.
Clancy elaborates on why he detected a niche for such an app: “There are 26 sites in Dublin, for instance, which get 100,000 visitors per year, each. Only three of them have a mobile apps.”
But what are the three entities that currently have mobile apps? There are Guinness Storehouse, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and the National Botanic Gardens.

On the learning hunt

The Learning Hunt app runs on HTML5 and is a next-generation cross platform application, which allows it to run across the smartphone spectrum, from the iPhone to the Android platforms. It is also one of first apps to be incorporated into Facebook’s new Timeline Platform. 

Clancy said he carried out his market research as part of his business planning via gamification and social networking platforms. This was to assess the younger demographic who would be likely to use his app. Funding from the competition will be used to help bring his idea to market much faster, with the aim being to launch in July 2012.
He’ll also be gleaning the digital expertise at the NDRC on Thomas Street in Dublin City. NDRC is part of Dublin’s Digital Hub.
“The app’s unique selling point is its content management system, so a museum for instance can upload its content such as videos, audio, educational quizzes, historical information or factsheets and quixkly turn these into a mobile app and interactive games.
Then, there’s the customer-facing element to the app, which allows people to download a PowerPoint presentation, or whatever information they find on a hunt even rewards directly to their new Facebook Timeline accounts using it at their leisure after they have visited an attraction.
“Another interesting aspect of the app is that you can interact with other visitors to a museum when on it, so it really opens up the entire experience,” said Clancy.

Dublin City of Science 2012

He said that he will be liaising with the Dublin City of Science 2012 to upload all 26 Dublin sites onto the platform, with Q3 2012 being the launch time.
“I’ll consolidate the business in Ireland first, and then who knows,” he added.
Prior to the competition, the five finalists were given €3,000 to develop their ideas over a six-week period. During the six weeks they also spent time with the NDRC Inventorium team and associated designers refining and scoping out their ideas and plans.

Digital capital of Europe

The other four competitors today were:
Barry Slattery of Linking Learning, a website service and mobile app that aims to help parents gain a deeper understanding and awareness of the all specific learning objectives their child is encountering weekly.

Sarah Geaney of Science Project, an initiative focused on enabling the public to better understand science and its benefit to society by participating in current scientific research.

BEO Network (transition-year students). BEO organises and promotes live music events for teenagers. This group was set up in 2009 by three neighbouring schools in Donegal and Letterkenny, Colaiste Ailigh, Loreto Convent and St Eunans.

Jane Ruffino and Mark Jordan of Ourchaelogy. Ourchaeology makes everyone an archaeologist, say its founders. It aims to link home-school and museum-based learning by deploying web and mobile technologies, enabling young people in real time, while out in the streets and countryside, to use real archaeological data to design and carry out projects.

You can find out more about each of the finalists and their projects here.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic