We recently came across a new augmented reality (AR) travel app for Slovenia, TaleUp, and so got in touch with Žiga Novak, of Travel-Slovenia to learn more about it, as well as some of his other projects
How did you come to work for Travel-Slovenia?
Well, Travel-Slovenia is my own project, which I’ve run from the very beginning, from the first idea until today. I always liked to travel around Slovenia, and to discover new places, not just those known to everyone, as I was more into hidden locations, small local offers and so on.
While discovering this places I decided to start writing about them. But at the beginning it was just a blog, for which I didn’t have much time. But sometime later, I saw a different way of doing this, and that’s how Travel-Slovenia was born. It’s changed a lot over time, as at first I didn’t really know what I wanted. But since then things fell into place it started growing from there, and I started working with other people, groups and companies.
What kind of groups?
One example is Society Farjovca, with their hike to Trstelj, for which I also made the logotype. I also created the graphics for their Sage hike, which was unfortunately cancelled, due to the corona crisis.
Another nice example of a something smaller, that not everyone knows about, is the Society Baška grapa heritage, for whom we made a presentation movie about their traditional hike along a themed path related to the classic Slovenian movie On Our Own Land (details). We also work with larger institutions, like museums. For example, we cooperate with the Technical Museum of Slovenia, and through our page visitors can get free tickets for a visit.
What does Travel Slovenia offer visitors?
Travel-Slovenia aims to be the ultimate web tourist portal, which tries to present various locations around Slovenia and bring them closer to foreign and domestic visitors. Slovenia is a small sub-Alpine country, which offers unique experience and unforgettable moments. Travel-Slovenia, as an online tourist guide, tries to provide as much information about Slovenia as needed, so the visitors will leave it with beautiful impressions.
The portal includes various categories, from facts about Slovenia, history, Slovenian things (like animals, wines, food, movies, etc.) Slovenian words and texts (poems, our anthem, and so on), hiking, historical and other attractions, walking and cycling locations, castles and mansions, presentations of the cities and what to do there, monuments and much more.
In 2019 we started with project Mobility Slovenia, and the goal is to connect various locations in the country and make it easier for tourists to travel around and see more than the usual sites. For this we started to work with Nomago, a company that runs buses, airport shuttles, and other transport services.
To provide more personal insights into Slovenia, and promote the country to people who looking for new experiences in a clean, green environment, we started the Trail blog. Here people can read about our trips around Slovenia, gets to know interesting sights and things to do.
I should also say that if someone is planning their next trip while stuck at home then we can also answer any questions you have about travel in Slovenia. We can even make a full package for a custom tour, all we need to know is what you’d like to do here. What you’d like to see, what kind of activities, your budget and so on We can even provide a tourist guide, if wanted.
Slovenia has a lot to offer, more than many people know, and we want to create stories, and memories, for everyone.
As you said earlier, you also work in the field of Augmented and Virtual Reality. Can you tell us about the TaleUp app?
Of course. While looking for new partners I came across the agency Dragon Lines, with their lead tourist guide Dragan Bekčič. We hit it off, and soon started to talk about working together. The idea came, and I was able to make it with VRsolution lab. Finally, after 5 months of hard work and development, the app saw the light of the day, on March 1st. 2020. We released it for Android phones (on the Google Play Store, here, and on the Huawei GalleyApp).
In future more locations will be added, more stories created. And we are also looking for new partners to join the app, and be presented in interactive way, with augmentation of their location or products with virtual content. If anyone wants to learn more about that, then they can visit our page.
What does AR bring to the experience of travelling?
The app is made so that the user can see historical places or objects that do not exist anymore, or can only be seen in the museum. With the app one can see them on the original spot, at the real location and on their mobile device, in the real size. In that way people can experience history, something from the future, or an imagined past, like a tram in the air for Ljubljana.
Another option is the augmentation of certain products. For example, we work with the chocolate shop Cukrček, where the AR content can be found at their locations around Ljubljana – next to Town Hall and the Robba Fountain, Trubarjeva cesta and Miklošičeva, behind Prešeren square.
App users can also get a discount for purchases, all they need to do is show the coupons that can be found under locations with the % sign.
How has coronavirus hit the project?
Are you working on any other projects now?
Yes, I’m working on a lot of new projects, and also took this time to learn new things. Just recently I made some new AR content that lets you step into a new dimension and to see a virtual with animals, which you can then walk around using your mobile device. I’ve also been working on an AR still life project.
As another interest I also organize events with electronic music - hardcore, hard techno, techno and hardstyle – under the name Factory of Sound. For that I created the FoS AR app, to augment our posters, leaflets and other graphics with virtual interactive content. Like TaleUp, it’s available for Android devices (Google Play Store or and Huawei GalleryApp)..