A new app released by South African author and journalist Peter Delmar is the first to turn a local travel book into a location-aware audio application.
The free Android and iOS Platinum Road app contains over an hour’s storytelling narrated by Radio 702’s David O’Sullivan – 17 true stories that are derived from Delmar’s latest “road” book, The Platinum Road, which covers the N4 highway between Gauteng and Lobatse in Botswana and the N1 between Pretoria and Bela Bela.
Delmar explains that once the app is downloaded, users need not incur any data charges and the stories are triggered automatically by the GPS location of the user’s smartphone or tablet. “Users can either listen to the stories in their homes – anywhere in the world – or use it on the road,” says Delmar. “On the N4 and N1 the app’s really cool feature is that it automatically starts telling stories relevant to particular places your vehicle is approaching – even in the middle of nowhere. And it can be used completely hands-free.”
Sponsored by Bakwena N1N4 toll, the Platinum Road app contains images, maps and stories about history (vast vanished Tswana cities, the Anglo-Boer War and the Freedom Struggle) – as well as geology, frogs, curious place names and even South Africa’s best-loved short-storyteller, Herman Charles Bosman.
Delmar says the app, which took more than a year to develop, demonstrates how technology can be used to deliver compelling content and “the amazing South African story” in accessible, dynamic ways that simply weren’t possible a few years ago. “The stories on the app are all in The Platinum Road book and anyone wanting to read them all can get a physical copy of the book or the e-book version but the app adds a whole new dimension to location-based storytelling,” Delmar says.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the supposed information offered to travellers in South Africa is lightweight, not terribly useful and not very interesting; frankly a waste of time and bandwidth. Hopefully this app is going to challenge this tendency by offering no-fluff good storytelling.”
According to Delmar, the app will be updated regularly. “Bakwena and I are already planning the next version – more stories, music, useful tourist information and a treasure-hunt game for the whole family.”
Jonathan Meyer, the content manager of Tourism Radio with whom Delmar worked to develop the app, says The Platinum Road app is the perfect showcase for the Cape Town-based operation’s home-grown app technology, “The Platinum Road contains a wealth of information that is simply unrivalled in South Africa. We’re proud to offer an app, across multiple mobile platforms, which allows Peter’s knowledge and research to be fully experienced by tech-savvy travellers, either as they are learning about ‘The road to Botswana’ at home, or while they’re on the move.”
Delmar’s business, Parkview Press, has published three books containing largely unknown stories on major routes within South Africa – The N3 Book, The N4 Book and now The Platinum Road. It also recently published a book featuring drives around historic Johannesburg – The Johannesburg Explorer Book.
A Windows mobile version of the app will be launched later in April 2014.