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St. Louis Park, Golden Valley using augmented reality to market to visitors

"Virtual Getaway" guides you through an immersive virtual tour of local attractions.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Augmented reality has seen a lot of growth in the last few years. The technology integrates computer generated content with the real world. One of the most famous examples is the popular "Pokémon Go" app.

It's not just being used in video games, however. In fact, Discover St. Louis Park is using augmented reality to market itself to visitors.

"It's an immersive digital experience that allows would-be travelers to explore different attractions and destinations within St. Louis Park and Golden Valley, and hopefully be inspired to go visit them in real life," said Trish Foster, marketing director with Discover St. Louis Park

Foster walked us through "Virtual Getaway" and how it works. Visitors can scan a QR code at several kiosks around the city. It will then prompt you to open Instagram where a map of St. Louis Park appears. From there, prompts will guide you through an immersive virtual tour of local attractions. 

"There's fun clouds you can tap on," Foster said. "There's Easter eggs behind there so if you can look behind the building and see fun surprises. And when you work your way all the way through to the end, you get a special code, and if you enter it on our website, you can unlock special offers to area business that you can activate immediately."

Discover St. Louis Park teamed up with artist Adam Turman and local tech company REM 5 studios to design it.

Amir Berenjian is the CEO of REM 5. He says the days of visiting a new city or vacation spot and grabbing a brochure to walk you through attractions will soon be in the past.

Berenjian says tech like this will lead to a more immersive — and sustainable — future. 

"Now with the advent and the acceleration of augmented reality, we can have the digital content overlay on the real world that can be refreshed on a pretty regular basis without having to print new content," Berenjian said. "So I think we're going to start to see it in more aspects of our lives."

Discover St. Louis Park sent out postcards to residents in St. Louis Park and Golden Valley so they could try out the experience and discover new places in their city. For more information, click here.

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