App brings Hamilton
Gardens to life


Technology enhances garden experience

Technology developed by the University of Waikato is giving Hamilton Gardens' visitors an opportunity to learn more about Hamilton city’s number one tourist attraction. The University has worked with Hamilton Gardens' staff to develop an app that provides information about the history and design of the themed gardens.

Led by Associate Professor Annika Hinze, staff and students from the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences have designed and built both Android and iPhone versions of the free app, which can be used offline without needing a data plan.

The newly released app offers audio and visual content, including location-based discovery tours – from the mysterious symmetry in the Italian Renaissance Garden to protecting the Chinese Scholars' Garden from mythical dragons. 

The app allows visitors to access useful information while exploring the gardens or to read about selected features before or after a visit. 

The app contains images and spoken text, triggered as users move into the different garden spaces. When users enter a themed garden, the app notifies them that relevant information is available, which they can either listen to or read. The app uses GPS data to locate the user and their proximity to points of interest. 

Hamilton Gardens' Director Dr Peter Sergel is excited about the potential of the app. 

“It’s a very creative way for people to engage with our internationally unique concept,” he says. “The Mansfield Garden will open later this year and the app gives us the opportunity to tell the unique New Zealand-inspired stories we have learned while developing this garden.”

The University of Waikato team is currently designing the interactive tour for the Mansfield Garden. Future developments include audio commentary in other languages, discovery tours for children and ‘interactive’ sculptures telling their own stories to visitors - using Bluetooth beacons for proximity detection. 

Information on the app’s development is available at  https://isdb.cms.waikato.ac.nz/hg-app/