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City Uses New Technology to Create Self-Guided Tour of Old Landmarks

A small group of volunteers are recording audio descriptions of local landmarks in honor of the city's 2012 centennial.

New technology is helping a group of volunteers develop a self-guided audio tour of some of Redmond's oldest landmarks in anticipation of the city's 2012 centennial celebration.

City planner Kim Dietz, one of several city staff members and community volunteers who are overseeing the project, said the new audio files will be available in a smartphone application that users can listen to as they visit the city's 16 designated historical landmarks.

The app is already available in a text-based format, but Dietz said the audio feature will enable users to visually identify each site's features as they listen to a detailed description of the landmark's architecture and history.

"This will add a more lively component to it, in thinking about someone standing in front of a building," Dietz said. "You might want to look at the building and listen."

City employees and members of the Redmond Historical Society are volunteering their time to record the audio files in the recording studio at the . Mayor John Marchione will also record an introduction to the tour, and historian Tom Hitzroth, who leads a , will voice much of the historical descriptions, Dietz said.

"He is truly Redmond's historian...so it's really great to have Tom be part of this team," she said.

Dietz said the team plans to have the new app available on all types of smartphones. It will likely be free to download, she said, although pricing is still being finalized.

Looking beyond the initial audio project, Dietz said city leaders would also like to eventually incorporate smart tags into the self-guided tour and are considering putting permanent signs with the tags on historic buildings so visitors can instantly learn more about the background of each landmark.

The goal is to have the new audio app completed in time for a centennial kick-off celebration in December, Dietz said. Information from the app will also be available on the city's website for people who do not own smartphones, she said.

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