Discover the Tintern Trails from the comfort of your home with the new ‘Nature Walker’ Mobile App

Nature Walker allows users to virtually explore the picturesque Tintern Trails using 360-degree video capture and advanced sound design

Walton Institute at South East Technology University (SETU), Sport Ireland, and Sports Active Wexford are proud to announce the launch of the new Nature Walker mobile app, designed to encourage engagement in physical exercise via a unique immersive experience. 

Funded by Sport Ireland’s Innovation Fund and developed by the Mobile Ecosystem and Pervasive Sensing (MEPS) team at Walton Institute, in collaboration with Sports Active Wexford, Wexford Mental Health Services, Coillte, and the Tintern Trails Group, the mobile-based application comprises 360-degree video capture of the picturesque Tintern Abbey trails, enabling people to virtually visit and explore these scenic surroundings from the comfort of their own homes or while walking outdoors. 

The app’s special ‘Walk 360’ feature accesses the user’s mobile phone sensors so they can start their chosen video by walking and pause the video when they stop, with user movement correlating to video progression and increasing the overall sense of immersion. Mindfulness and educational guide videos have also been incorporated into the design and development, while the app’s sound has been specially devised to enhance the overall experience and offer a calming effect.

The app was officially launched on Tuesday 13th February at Tintern Abbey by Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Cllr John Fleming, and Cllr Garry Laffan, Chairperson of Sports Active Wexford. Attendees including Wexford Mental Health Service users had the opportunity to demo the app along the Tintern Trails with Walton’s Mixed Reality Lab Lead, Stephen Barnes, and Tintern Trails Walking Leaders, Pat Caulfield and Kate O’Brien. 

“We are delighted that our innovation project Nature Walker app has been launched. The project has been a journey of exploration and development. We hope this will enable more people to benefit from the experience of walking in nature from their home, park, or street, to enhance their wellbeing, and promote a physical activity experience in County Wexford,” said Fran Ronan, Head of Local Sports Partnership, Sports Active Wexford. 

With accessibility and inclusion at the core of its design, the initial target group for this project were people with anxiety or other psychological impairments that would physically prevent them from visiting the area; however, the resulting app has a much broader appeal with virtual tourism noted as a potential area for further exploration. 

Stephen Barnes, Mixed Reality Lab Lead at Walton Institute, explained, “Workshops with service users facilitated by Wexford Mental Health Services were invaluable with features suggested by the intended audience leading to a greater user experience including the importance of sound design, solo and guided videos, as well as Forest Bathing to help users relax and meditate. We are very proud to present a mobile app that encourages people to walk, is accessible to those with mobility issues, but also incorporates user suggested features that not only enrich the sense of immersion but also showcase the beauty of the natural surroundings of Tintern.” 

One user commented on how much they enjoy the app saying “the visual is very good. I find it easy to use and with recovery I would find it beneficial as it would help me clear my head, especially using the meditation tool. I will use it for definite in my own time.”

It is envisaged that the next phase of the project shall focus on expanding the content for Nature Walker to include other areas of scenic beauty in County Wexford. 

The Nature Walker app is now available and free to download from the Play Store for Android Devices and the App Store for iOS devices.