Virtual treasure hunt launched

University researchers have developed a digital treasure hunt around Edinburgh.

Photo of children playing with the Treasure Trapper app

The Treasure Trapper app challenges children to track down some of the city’s most valuable artefacts.

Thirty objects such as Greyfriar Bobby’s collar, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ring, and Robert Burns’ swordcane are scattered throughout the capital and transported virtually on tour buses.

Engaging technology

Developed by Design Informatics researchers at the University, the game is accessed through a smartphone app and uses GPS technology.

The app lets players see the scattered treasures’ location on a map and alerts them if one is nearby.

When a tour bus carrying a lost object reaches a bus stop, the object remains on that spot for a few minutes.

Competitors must rush to the stop and capture it on their phone. The object will appear on their screen if they point it at a bus stop containing a treasure.

Prized treasures

Players then return their trapped treasures to any of Edinburgh’s museums or the Assembly Rooms and receive rewards, such as 10 per cent discount in shops or entry to visitor attractions such as the Scott Monument or Lauriston Castle.

The more treasures a player traps the more quizzes, bonus material, and extra objects they unlock and earn better rewards.

Edinburgh partnership

The game has been developed in partnership with Edinburgh Bus Tours (part of Lothian Buses and Transport for Edinburgh), Edinburgh Museums & Galleries, the collection of cultural venues owned and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council, and the Assembly Rooms.

We developed the technology to find innovative ways to connect parts of the city. The game demonstrates how established services like the city’s museums and galleries and its bus service can be hooked up using network technologies. In the process, we have created something completely new. When you play the game you begin to see how everything in the city can be connected.

Professor Chris SpeedChair in Design Informatics

Photo: Maverick Photography