‘Phygital’ travelling: a hybrid tourism boom

HONOR transforms cultural landmark with AI and AR in new Gateway to the Future initiative, connecting tourism and tech in the metaverse era.

HONOR has announced Gateway to the Future, an initiative designed to enrich cultural heritage through the power of technology. 

Launched during its IFA 2022 keynote, the global technology brand challenged two popular artists to creatively reimagine the Wasserschloss – a landmark located in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – using augmented reality (AR). 

With interest in the metaverse building and the growth of hybrid tourism, the project aims to inspire global creative talent to use AI, AR and Spatial Audio to connect communities with culture in more immersive ways and support the global tourism rebound, as the world embraces the connected future.

“We predict the rise of AR and AI technologies being used to create even more phygital experiences for smartphone users around the world, contributing to the hybrid tourism boom. Beyond tourism, this technology has the potential to benefit a number of other industries and communities. It really is the Gateway to the Future,” said George Zhao, CEO of HONOR Device Co, Ltd. 

Celebrating cultural heritage in the metaverse

Inspired by the city’s history of transformation, HONOR chose Hamburg as the pilot location for the project, with the aim of contributing to the digital cultural boom and inspiring people from all around the world to reimagine cultural treasures in the metaverse.

“With tourism soaring to new heights following years of global lockdowns, it's great to see brands like HONOR bringing new and enriched experiences to people as they start to explore the world again. This summer, our city again saw the same level in visitors as summer 2019, which in part has been due to new interactive cultural attractions enabled by technology,” said Guido Neumann, Head of PR of Hamburg Tourism Board.

“We are witnessing a huge demand for hybrid experiences, with travellers increasingly expecting a virtual layer to their interactions with cultural landmarks. This is the right time to harness the power of technology in tourism to create magical experiences for tourists around the world.”

To bring the project to life, HONOR partnered with ARLOOPA, an AR and VR development company, and celebrated artists Yunuene and Timo Helgert, who creatively transformed the famous Wasserschloss building in AR. 

“The Warehouse District was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015 with the aim of protecting and preserving the history and culture of one of the world's largest trading ports. Through the advent of emerging technologies including augmented reality, it is now possible to educate and engage future generations about cultural heritage in new and exciting ways,” said Bernd Paulowitz, Head of UNESCO World Heritage Hamburg. 

AR experiences are now live

Available from today until the end of the year, the Gateway to the Future AR experiences can be accessed through a dedicated HONOR page on the free to download ARLOOPA app. 

Users have the option to experience the AR artworks on site in Hamburg, or anywhere in the world. The on-site experience is anchored to the Wasserschloss building, and can be viewed from the Poggenmühlen-Brücke, the bridge opposite the landmark. 

To expand the reach of the campaign to global audiences, people  who are not in Hamburg can select “experience on any surface” on the app and follow the on-screen instructions to virtually check out the AR experience on a flat surface nearby.