UCL's Tales of the Park to bring talking digital creatures to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Researchers at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) have created Tales of the Park, a new digital experience for visitors to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the surrounding area. 3D-printed interactive creatures including bees, otters, bats and garden gnomes that you can chat to using your smartphone are now located in a range of locations for people to find.

Funded by PETRAS, a multi-university research hub established to investigate the ‘Internet of Things’, the creatures are intended as a fun way to allow visitors to explore some of the security issues that surround ‘natural language interfaces’ – the same technology used for Amazon Alexa or Facebook Messenger chatbots. As they chat with the creatures, visitors will find out more about Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the surrounding area, what events are on, and the fascinating history of the area. 

Tales of the Park builds on the existing Tales of Things platform developed in partnership with Edinburgh University and CASA which allows people to share the stories of physical objects using QR Codes. However, Tales of the Park is built with a new technology from Google called the ‘Physical Web’, which uses devices called ‘low energy Bluetooth beacons’ to connect things and places to the internet. If visitors to the Park have the physical web option activated on their Android phone or iPhone and are close to a creature, they’ll automatically receive a notification with a web link that allows them to start chatting with it. All of the activity is free.
Each of the 15 creatures has been named and painted by young people aged between five and twelve, from Academy Achievers, a community organisation based in Newham which helps local children to achieve their potential. 
The Tales of the Park creatures are on and around the Park right now waiting for people to find them!

More information

As this is a fun, voluntary game, people will only participate if they want to and no phone or personal information will be recorded.

For more information about the project, where to find the creatures and how to interact with the, visit talesofthepark.com or pick up a leaflet in the Park’s venues and information Point. 

Read the full press release here