Visitors and local people can experience Belfast Maritime Mile’s heritage in brand new ways for free this week as part of the Belfast HUB-IN project.

Six local creative and digital businesses, artists, and innovators were awarded £120,000 from Belfast City Council to collaborate with local heritage organisations and communities to develop new prototype visitor experiences that animate and enrich the city’s iconic waterfront.

Three of the experimental projects go live this week and people can try out a range of experiences powered by artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Christina Black said: “HUB-IN is helping to nurture exciting new relationships between Belfast’s heritage and creative industries sectors, communities, and businesses along the Maritime Mile, and supporting people to develop valuable entrepreneurial and digital innovation skills. It’s fantastic to see these proposals come to life along the Maritime Mile.” 

Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Maritime Belfast Trust added: “Maritime Belfast Trust is committed to delivering an iconic waterfront for Belfast. This project is where heritage and innovation collide – an outdoor Heritage Lab of unexpected surprises!  It’s fantastic to see young creatives working with some of our oldest communities on innovative technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, to provide new ways to explore our rich maritime heritage and stories along Belfast’s Maritime Mile. This is only the start of a pilot initiative, and we are looking forward to building on its success in the future.”

Experiences include an AI project that brings local historical figures back to life; interactive 3D virtual reality rooms developed using archives from the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland; and a collaboration between a local digital artist and the Sailortown Regeneration Group to preserve the local stories of the area.

Maritime Echoes: An AI Voyage to the Past

Visitors can try out ‘Maritime Echoes: An AI Voyage to the Past’ developed by local innovator Darin Smyth. Using the power of AI and Unreal Engine 3D software, pivotal historical figures from Belfast’s rich maritime past, including Mary-Ann McCracken, Lord Pirrie and William Ritchie, will be brought to life.

3D Virtual Reality Rooms

Visitors will get an exclusive preview of interactive 3D virtual reality rooms developed by Flax & Teal in partnership with the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). The virtual reality experience will give people a unique perspective on the Belfast waterfront area’s evolution by showcasing the stories of past generations through images, video, audio, and historic maps.

Memory Anchors

Visitors can call into St Joseph’s Church, 9 Princes Dock Street, Sailortown to discover ‘Memory ANew immersive visitor experiences showcase Belfast Maritime Mile’s heritagenchors’ – a collaboration between digital artist Katya Solomatina and the Sailortown Regeneration Group which aims to preserve the heritage and local stories of Sailortown through interactive digital sculpture and storytelling. Visitors can see virtual art pieces developed using augmented reality and listen to stories created by the Sailortown community.

A new Treasure Hunt Quest will also run from 13 April to 31 August 2024. Starting at the Big Fish sculpture, visitors can use their mobile phone to follow the route towards Sailortown and discover hidden virtual objects created by the Sailortown community.

The Belfast HUB-IN programme was developed by Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office in partnership with the Maritime Belfast Trust, to explore how digital innovation can help to sustain, enhance, and preserve the Maritime Mile’s heritage. It is part of a €7.9 million European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative to transform historic urban areas through innovation and spread public benefits from urban regeneration.

This article was originally published by Belfast City Council. Read the original article here.