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AR You ready for National Day?

AR You ready for National Day?

Parades
are organised annually to commemorate Singapore’s independence from Malaysia on
9 August 1965. Since then, the size and wow-factor of the parade have gone from
strength to strength. This year, organisers collaborated with a local tech
startup to develop an activity app named ‘NDP Jalan!’ (“Jalan” translates
to “walk” in the Malay language).

Launched
in the lead up to the festivities, the app is used to explore the city-state’s
rich history through a series of interactive AR games. Much like the popular
Pokémon Go game, NDP Jalan! seeks to take users around the island. Instead of
catching furry avatars, citizens are led to sites of national importance, such
as the Singapore Botanic Gardens – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At
these locations, users are treated to an augmented reality (AR) visual
spectacular. Furthermore, if they correctly answer the questions posed along
the trail, points are earned. These points in turn are used to redeem vouchers.
Moreover, users stand a chance to be an audience member at the parade this year.

The
means of fostering national pride and a sense of belonging have changed over
the years. While banners and fireworks might have hit the mark in the past,
citizens nowadays might need something more to connect with the nation. But
connection alone isn’t enough. Honing a deep and meaningful relationship with
the state is possible with a digital connection.

Lieutenant
Colonel Mikail Kalimuddin, deputy chairman of the branding and publicity committee
for NDP2018 said, “Minigames utilising AR technology ass a new dimension of
excitement to the experience. It is a wonderful opportunity for families,
students and anyone interested in Singapore to embark on a guided exploration
of our country while having fun along the way.”

Since
AR has the potential to alter one’s world view through the mixture of natural
surroundings and digital media, the use of technology for nation building are
vast. The AR feature in the app helps refresh national icons which might have
become stale over the years. Citizens are provided with an opportunity to
rediscover what the city has to offer.

It
is the immersive nature of AR which allows citizens to experience their sense
of belonging to Singapore in a phenomenal way. Citizens have an opportunity to
interact with the city in a way which they have never been able to before. For
starters, the graphics visualised through the AR viewer bring the city’s
surroundings to life. Users’ experience of the space changes, and landmarks
take on new meaning. Furthermore, pairing AR with the thrill of game
successfully entices citizens to be more interested in what the city has to
offer.

Most
importantly, it is the technology in and of itself which motivates citizens to
envision new dreams for a future-ready Singapore. Although the graphics one
sees in AR are not real, lively imagination is almost turned into reality. As a
nation-building tool, NDP Jalan! successfully calls are citizens to see what
has yet to be seen, and hopefully to build upon the dream.

National
Day Parades have not shied away from using technology. In fact, the parades are
an important arena to showcase the technological prowess of Singapore. Over the
years, parades have featured iconic multimedia shows which leverage on the
latest technology. For example, the 2003 National Day Parade used Projecteur
d’Images Géantes Informatisées (PiGi)
projection technology, the same technology used at the 2000 Summer Olympic
Games’ Opening and Closing ceremonies. Thus, technology has proved to be
indispensable in Singapore’s nation-building process.

While
the app might be a unique way to conduct national education, it is also an
ingenious way of harnessing the power of technology to do the impossible.