University expertise creates VisitScotland app

Date posted

28 February 2017


Last updated

15 May 2020

The Edinburgh Napier VisitScotland app teamScotland’s most stunning sights have been given global exposure in a virtual travel app created by Edinburgh Napier expertise.

People across the world can now instantly walk through the prehistoric Orkney village of Skara Brae, soar high above Edinburgh Castle or journey into the depths of The Hollow Mountain of Ben Cruachan from the comfort of their own home.

The ScotlandVR app – a ground-breaking virtual reality travel experience which immerses web users in Scotland’s remarkable attractions – was launched today by tourism body VisitScotland.

However, the concept for an innovative app in which to explore a virtual Scotland was developed here at the University by a team led by Professor David Benyon and Dr Oli Mival.

The team won a competition held during the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design to create an exciting, interactive digital product aimed at motivating people to visit Scotland. Capital-based digital and creative agency Whitespace then developed the final product for VisitScotland.

Professor Benyon, Director of the university’s Merchiston-based Centre for Interaction Design, hailed the high-profile project as a “great all round example of university-industry collaboration”.

He said: “This was a very positive experience for the MSc students studying the ‘design dialogues’ module. It gave them real exposure to a real design brief, and critical feedback from leading design agencies helped the students to refine their ideas.”

A team from Edinburgh Napier University developed the concept for this app, which demonstrates the pioneering spirit and ingenuity of Scotland’s academic, technology and tourism sectors.

Fiona Hyslop MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

It is hoped the ScotlandVR app, available for all Android and Apple users to download for free on Google Play and Apple Store, will inspire more people to discover Scotland for real.

Featuring state-of-the art 360˚ imagery and footage, users start their journey in a virtual glen complete with mooing Highland Cow, crackling fire and bellowing stag. From there, they can jump into a map of Scotland and experience 26 unique attractions covering every part of the country.

The whole environment can be experienced in Stereoscopic 3D when used with a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset, or in 360˚ view using gyroscope technology in phone mode. Future phases of the software will see new attractions added through refreshed content.

The landmark locations in the launch app were chosen from criteria including footfall, product diversity, online searches and links to the current 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “This virtual reality app provides people across the globe with a window into Scotland’s fantastic attractions. In this, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, there has never been a better time to come to Scotland and experience our world class destinations and historic buildings and monuments.

“A team from Edinburgh Napier University developed the concept for this app, which demonstrates the pioneering spirit and ingenuity of Scotland’s academic, technology and tourism sectors.”

Preview the new app here

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “We are excited to be able to launch our first venture into the world of virtual reality. Far from being a fad or gimmick, VR is revolutionising the way people choose the destinations they might visit by allowing them to ‘try before they buy’ and learn more about the country in a unique and interactive way. 
“We have no doubt that once people get a taste of the spirit of Scotland or #ScotSpirit through ScotlandVR, they will be booking a holiday to experience our stunning landscapes and attractions in the flesh.”

The launch attractions include Abbotsford House, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Cairngorms National Park, Dunnottar Castle, The Falkirk Wheel, Falkland Palace, Forth Bridges, Glasgow Cathedral, The Kelpies, National Museum of Scotland, New Lanark, Royal Botanic Garden, RRS Discovery and the National Wallace Monument.
Research shows that 60 per cent of searches for destination information come from mobile devices. This, coupled with virtual reality experiencing growth worldwide (forecasted numbers of VR users between now and 2018 set to grow by 400 per cent to 170 million) creates a prime opportunity for Scotland to be discovered in a new and innovative way.  

A recent report by Greenlight VR showed that travel and adventure VR content is the most sought after by consumers (74 per cent), followed by movies and live-events.
ScotlandVR is available to download from Google Play and Apple Stores.   

For more information, visit