Piligrim XXI: "We are creating an absolutely new travel format for the modern tourists"
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17 December 2014

Piligrim XXI: "We are creating an absolutely new travel format for the modern tourists"

The creators of Piligrim XXI, a unique application for tourists, rated among the best IT-startups in GenerationS-2014, are convinced that the usual guidebooks are boring. It is a fair statement taken into account that the augmented reality service from Piligrim XXI allows to combine a real trip across the sights with a travel back in time. Today, Diana Sorina, a project co-founder, has told how Piligrim XXI will "restore" "Aurora" in St. Petersburg and the Bastille in Paris.

Piligrim XXI project is over one year old, but the company key personnel have been working together for about 10 years. We have got a well-organized and, most importantly, a very professional team. I've been working in marketing for more than 15 years and for this period I've introduced many brands to the market, including my own ones. The project leader, Ilya Korguzalov, has headed for the long time the restoration laboratory in the Kunstkamera, so he is a true expert in the field of historical reconstruction. And his working experience for international design agencies ensures a unique visual performance of our application. Our designer Maxim Doroshenko is an incredibly competent person with a very innovative thinking and an extensive experience of working with augmented reality technology. There are no impossible tasks for him! Another important member of the team is a 3D-modeler, Stanislav Bayanov, who is a really talented artist. And Tatiana Chernykh, who is responsible for the project promotion, has been worked for years in advertising and publishing business. I'm sure that the team is one of the strengths of our project.

The creation of an application of augmented reality became a logical extension of our previous projects. Ilya Korguzalov is the author of the idea. For the last 6 years we have been publishing Le Voyageur, an international magazine for travellers, and thus, we are well aware of the issues and trends in the tourism industry. A couple of years ago we were approached by the officials of the Volgograd region administration who asked to help in promotion of the region. They wanted to invent something unusual to attract tourists. This proved to be a challenge, almost nothing has left on those lands after the War, there is nothing special to show except for Mamaev Kurgan. But there are more than 4,000 archaeological sites hidden under the ground. Including the second capital of the Golden Horde, the famous Sarai Berke. It is the same in Pskov region, where there are only a few fortresses left from the two hundreds of old ones. And there are many such sites in our country, as well as around the world.

Many travellers are frustrated when they come to a legendary historical site and find there dusty ruins only. But they always want to see how these sites looked in past reality. I'm sure all the fans of educational tourism are facing this problem, this is what made us think about the possibilities of 3D-visualization and AR technology.

One of the main objectives of Piligrim XXI project is to create a fundamentally new travel format for modern tourists. Nowadays people tend to explore the world on their own, but there is no much really interesting information available in standard guidebooks and travel portals. Unfortunately, in most cases they post meager historical information, photos and other travellers' reviews. It is even more impossible to imagine while looking at the ruins, an ancient temple or a medieval castle, for example. But our service will provide this opportunity: you turn your tablet on the ancient stones and you'll see full-scale buildings images.

We are working toward the maximum authenticity and we design our 3D-models in accordance with the archival materials, images and witnesses notes, if any. So, it's not just an amusement, but a scientific and artistic reconstruction. Interactive visualization, animated characters, music and audio tours give an experience of a full immersion into a different time period. In the future we plan to create a network of augmented reality parks all around the world. This will help to create new original tourist routes even in the places where no historical monuments were preserved and there are no chances to restore them. So, in the next year we are going to create the first such route through the territory of Latvia, where, in May, we launched the first Piligrim application - the knight's castle in the town of Ludza. In the coming months, we are going to recreate another architectural objects nearby.

For us the participation in GenerationS is a good luck. Our company took the first place in the competition in St. Petersburg stage of the road-show Russian Startup Tour. Our reward was the possibility to take part in GenerationS. And the fact that we were finalists of IT-track, it is, of course, due to our team. I would not say that it was easy for us to win. This year, very strong companies from across the country took part in the competition and the emotions ran high.

The most difficult was to talk about the project in front of such a large and powerful audience. I was really worried because we had a very short time both to tell about our project's idea and to highlight technical aspects of our work, its competitive advantages and prospects. However, our victory witnesses that I managed it.

Right now, our colleague is doing an acceleration program FABERNOVEL on the basis of Numa Innovation Center in Paris. It's one of the prizes we received within GenerationS Competition. This is an especially useful gift, taking into the account the fact that in the coming months we are planning to launch our application in the French capital. In general, participation in GenerationS is a great opportunity to present one's idea to the market experts and the largest investors. While discussing the project, we found some unexpected ideas for its implementation and our service improvement. Of course, the feedback caused by our victory also helps us in our search for new orders and negotiations for additional funding. In addition, we found another confirmation that our project is highly appreciated by the market participants and that it is in demand by the users. It is very important for such a young startup like ours.

As the finalists of IT-track, we received a grant from the "Fund for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in the Field of Science and Technology". All funds now attracted by Piligrim XXI go toward the technology development. Augmented reality is currently at its infancy stage and its huge potential is not implemented at all. The growing popularity of tablets and smart phones, creation of smart glasses, all this makes the AR-technology incredibly popular in various fields of the business. But I'm sure that the tourism is the field where all its options will be opened up. Now our project is developing very fast. The other day we launched a new application "Altun Estate" in Pushkinskiye Gory. It is a virtual open-air museum: a neo-Gothic mansion of Lvov noblemen, animated windmill and some beautiful old buildings on the estate territory. They were all destroyed by the Germans during the Great Patriotic War and only now we could recreate this unique architectural ensemble with the help of augmented reality.

Now we are about to complete our work on the Petersburg application "Aurora" Cruiser". This is the gift to our hometown. "Aurora" has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the Northern capital and the witness of landmark events in the city history, so, for a few years while the ship will remain in the repairing docks, tourists will be able to see it on the screens of their mobile devices. Moreover, the application can be launched in two places: on the Petrograd Embankment, where the ship has been tied up for the last few years, and on the English Embankment, where it made its legendary shot. So, very soon all St. Petersburg residents and visitors will be able to make a symbolic shot on the Winter Palace.

Our next point on the world map is Paris and its legendary fortress the Bastille, a refuge for the kings and a jail for the most famous prisoners. And by the spring we are planning to launch the first tourist route in our augmented reality parks in Latvia. In the nearest future, the task for Piligrim XXI will be to create the maximum number of locations both in Russia and abroad. And then, our users will be travelling with us not only across countries and continents, but also across different historical eras.

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