AR tech will help tackle Covid-19 public safety challenges

Smartphones today have become the go-to device to provide health and safety information in real-time to residents, experts say
Smartphones today have become the go-to device to provide health and safety information in real-time to residents, experts say

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 2:19 PM

AR technology is set to play a key role in helping residents and visitors stay safe while they are out and about in public areas, experts said.

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Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ahmad Daneshvar, co-founder of Epic Reality, an AR-powered travel application, highlighted how technology has helped residents feel more safer during the pandemic. Epic Reality’s smartphone app is designed to help tourists and residents navigate the emirate of Dubai safely and in a time-efficient manner. He also revealed that the app is available for download on Apple iOS and Android devices.

Conceptualised in the UAE, Epic Reality acts as a city guide that provides real-time updates on the city's safe and risk zones, as well as critical information related to Covid-19 health precautions, including social distance practices, facial wear dress code policies, seating capacity, temperature checks, and the relative exposure risk based on indoor vs. outdoor activities.

The app also features a Covid-19 Risk Score, which has been compiled from the most up-to-date international data sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO). Users can browse a listing of engaging activities, events, travel tours, sightseeing spots, restaurants, and cafés and learn about each venue or activity's health measures to ensure a safe travel experience during their stay in Dubai.

“We realised the great role that technology plays in helping us navigate the challenges of pandemics and health crises,” Daneshvar said. “And today, smartphones have become the go-to device to provide health and safety information in real-time. We took our time building a scrapping tool that harnesses the power of machine learning and algorithms to collect data from trusted sources. This resulted in carefully-vetted listings of leisure activities, attractions, tourist spots, all labeled with handy health and safety parameters, including social distancing protocol, venue capacity, and temperature checks.”

With the help of a machine learning algorithm, a Covid-19-risk rating, ranging from high to low, is determined based on the mentioned parameters, allowing users to make an informed decision about venturing out in a venue or joining an event. Users can choose from the 3,000 activities currently indexed and categorized in the app.

Co-founder, Daniel Ashtari, added: “We plan to roll out to other emirates coinciding with Covid-19 restrictions relaxing and proactive efforts for tourism revitalization being. Right now we’re focused on providing users and the local tourism ecosystem with this high-value tool but aim to eventually monetize by generating leads for tour operators and tourism activities. We see a strong number of daily users, returning to the app multiple times on various occasions, which indicates users are responding very favourably to the value proposition of the app. With many spending their holidays locally, Epic Reality is being leveraged for locals to plan their staycation activities.”

Epic Reality’s app also includes a variety of features and functions such as a pre-booking feature that allows users to browse a wide range of activities, places of interest, events, and sightseeing spots and save them for a later booking. The app uses AR technology to allow users to rotate 360 degrees to explore everything hidden around them and receive personalized content based on their location and engagement. By simply hovering over a location with your smartphone camera, a user can look up information on their destination and points of interest, such as the latitude, distance, and altitude of any locale.

The app is set for a rollout across the rest of the UAE following its Dubai launch. Epic Reality intends to cover additional major cities throughout the Mena region, the US, and Europe, enabling travellers to plan trips in a safe and timely manner.

“In the near future we see the application providing additional layers of valuable data for end users including ratings/rankings on various activities, more in-depth and specialized matching based on preference, in addition to being populated with a greater number of activities to choose from,” said Daneshvar.

“We will also focus on a seamless booking experience within the application so that both end users and tour operators/venues can connect with no barriers enhancing the overall value of the app. We certainly see this as a must have for those visiting for Expo 2020 Dubai - whether it’s the family of a business traveller exploring the city safely, or those here on business looking for activities in their downtime,” he added.

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