Location-based services - stretching the boundaries

The Bavarian State Library has developed groundbreaking - and 'bestselling' - apps and augmented reality tools.

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Cutting edge apps

Bavaria State Library's groundbreaking mobile apps draw on a database of 920,000 digitised books and exploit the very latest in location-sensitive technologies.

Speaking at OCLC's European conference ('Dynamic Data: a world of possibilities') Dr Klaus Ceynowa, Deputy Director of the Bavarian State Library described how he and his colleagues began to develop and exploit mobile technologies.  In 2010 they developed web applications including a mobile enabled online catalogue and library website. These successes gave them the confidence to move onto dedicated mobile apps for iPhone and iPad devices.

The first app, Treasures of the Bavarian Library (see video preview), provided mobile access to 50 rare and precious medieval manuscripts from the Library. This was followed up by Oriental Treasures of the Bavarian State Library. Both apps were ranked in the top 20 German iPad apps for almost two months.

Moving into location-based services

Ceynowa and his colleagues recognised that the move to mobile delivery and 'on the spot' information consumption, means that library data and digital content can help to shape real-life experiences anywhere. "Digital information can start to blend into the life of its users".

In the emerging field of location-based services, the Library came up with something genuinely new - the Historisches Bayern app, which will be available in both Apple's App Store and Google Play by the end of April 2013.

We took six of the library's huge historical maps, comprising more than 230 digital map sheets dating from the 16th century onwards. We geo-referenced these maps, added huge amounts of library content (texts, picture galleries, video and audio files), which featured more than 2,500 places of interest in Bavaria.

Users of the app can use the GPS capabilities of their own mobile devices to position themselves on these historical maps, and for specific points of interest, such as nearby castles, monasteries and monuments, access the in-depth information and high-resolution graphics that the library holds. And by using a timeline, users have a sense of moving through history.  

The Library next turned its attention to the most famous person in the history of Bavaria - King Ludwig II, who built his fairy-tale castle at Schloss Neuschwanstein. The library tapped into its own extensive content about King Ludwig II - text; letters; maps; architectural drawings - and worked with augmented reality browsers like Layar, Wikitude and Junaio to overlay the physical surroundings of the mobile device user with digital information, which is what augmented reality is all about. Mobile users can even access historical images of buildings that previously stood on the same site.  The app also opens up location-specific information from social networking sites such as Facebook.

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