Dec 30, 2013 3:55 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

Out and About: New app for Hearst Castle allows you to wander on your own

If you are one of those locals who hasn't taken a tour of Hearst Castle in years, maybe even decades, you may want to clear some space on the calendar. It is a much different experience these days than it was the last time you paid a visit. And that is especially so since four Cal Poly grads decided to make taking a tour as easy as taking along your smart phone.

What a lot of people don't know, is that with or without a tour of the inside of Hearst Castle, you can now meander the amazing exterior grounds, virtually on your own. And even if it's not a guided tour, it doesn't mean you can't learn a lot. Cal Poly grads Josh Hollans, Aaron Rivera and Mark Paddon have come up with a app for your mobile devices that makes it easy to explore and educate yourself at the same time. Your phone keeps track of where you are, and what notable pieces of history your approaching on your stroll.

The app gives you a written and pictorial history from Hearst archives. You can find out about the installation, artists, and anticdotes about each piece. Or you can just listen and let Hearst historian Victoria Lastner fill you in on the details. She reads each of the educational tid-bits on the app.

You don't have to worry about where you're headed, and can just enjoy the journey because the app tour follows you. Head to the Neptune pool, and learn about the ornate details nestled all around it that make it so spectacular. "The colonnades are rows of attached columns at both ends of the Neptune pool." Victoria explains via your mobile device. "These four marble lamp standards of gracefully sculpted swans, were designed specifically for this site. A full size drawing from Julia Morgan's office shows their exquisite detail. (on your phone)."

In virtually every location the app zeroes in on, you can go from conceptual drawings, to what it is today. The developers of this app got the idea on a post graduation trip to Peru when they craved more information about their explorations. "Everyone carries a mobile device when they travel, so we saw it as a perfect platform to build a touring experience." says Mark.

They came home started with the international treasure in their own backyard. "Our dream I think is to bring this to every historical attraction in the world. We want this to be everywhere you go." explains Josh.

Anyone who's checked out their ingenuity is impressed...especially tourists who find out they can continue their tour when they return home. "Brilliant!" exclaims a woman visiting the castle from England who was checking out the app. There's even have a music mix to help get you really immersed into the world of William Randolph.

It all seems to work to make a visit to the enchanted hill, well, a little more enchanting. They've already come up with a way to put the app on Google Glass. "Hopefully it extends just beyond an app, and whatever the newest platform is, it exists on that platform, and everyone has access to it." explains Aaron. "I mean customer reactions, I think there's been a few people who have come to us after using it who have just been completely blown away, like not going into it with any expectations, and coming away with a new appreciation and understanding of Hearst Castle." says Josh.

It's likely William Randolph would be impressed with the new way these young entrepuenuers are sharing his legacy with a brand new world in which they've grown up in.



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