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New technology to be used to promote city to tourists

Hannah Durkin, the interactive marketing director for the CVB, wears Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. Durkin hopes to use the Glass to allow tourists to view Natchez through the eyes of a visitor.
Hannah Durkin, the interactive marketing director for the CVB, wears Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. Durkin hopes to use the Glass to allow tourists to view Natchez through the eyes of a visitor.

Hannah Durkin is looking to promote Natchez in a way that’s never been done before — through the eyes of someone wearing Google Glass.

Google Glass is a device being developed by the search-engine company. The device is worn like a pair of eyeglasses and works as a voice-activated smartphone.

Wearers can surf the Internet, take pictures and videos, link to their mobile phones and perform other tasks.

Google Glass displays a translucent screen slightly above the right eye that can be controlled through a touchpad on the right side of the device or through various voice commands.

Google is testing the product with select consumers who have received an invitation to pay the $1,500 price. Google Glass is expected to hit retailers sometime next year.

Durkin, the interactive marketing manager for the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, received an invitation to obtain the device last month and jumped at the chance to interact with the new technology.

“You have to sign up and get approved, so (when I got approved) I thought it would be a great idea to take advantage of the opportunity,” Durkin said. “I signed up thinking I wasn’t going to get them, so it was crazy when I was chosen.”

The device only offers a few applications for consumers right now including GolfSight, which provides data on a specific golf course, or World Lens, which translates printed words from one language to another in real time.

The device’s photo and video capabilities have Durkin excited about the possibility of expanding the CVB’s blogging and social networking capabilities.

After the CVB purchased its pair, Durkin took the device out for a test drive at the Natchez Garden Club’s Victorian Luncheon and took photos at Magnolia Hall.

“By going around and taking pictures of things around town, it gives visitors a chance to see Natchez through the first-person perspective,” Durkin said. “I think it’s all about promoting Natchez in a way that it hasn’t been promoted before — through the eyes of a visitor — to give you a different perspective of what you would experience normally.”

Durkin is in charge of managing the CVB’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and YouTube accounts.

Google Glass is directly linked up to her email account, so when a photo is taken on the device simply by saying, “Take a picture,” it’s automatically uploaded to her network.

The ease of transferring a photo directly from the device to a variety of social networks is something Durkin said can help the CVB expand its reach to people across the country and world.

“A lot of people are focusing mainly on their social media accounts because it’s a free tool you can definitely take advantage of,” Durkin said. “We’ve gone on our Facebook page from 2,500 likes last December to 14,142 this December, so it’s definitely growing, and these things are helping bring people to Natchez.”

A recent promotion by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau in Florida brought five Google Glass “Explorers” throughout the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

The visitors took photos and videos throughout their trip, which the agency used for promotional material on their website.

Durkin said the Natchez CVB could eventually host a similar event where an itinerary is made for those visiting the area wearing their Google Glass.

“The itinerary could have a variety of tours or different things they could do and they could post everything using the hashtag “Natchezthroughglass,” Durkin said. “We would link to that on our pages and people would see a new side of Natchez they’ve never seen or see things that maybe they didn’t know Natchez had.

“Even if they’ve already been to Natchez previously, it would keep it fresh in their minds and create an awareness of what we have to offer in Natchez.”

As Google continues developing new applications and uses for the device, Durkin said she’d continue exploring the new possibilities the device offers to bring visitors to the area.

“This is a great marketing effort that we’re excited about,” Durkin said. “Hopefully, this will help put us on the map.

“We wanted to be one of the first CVBs to have our own pair and be able to promote Natchez ourselves. The cost is pretty much the same as a camera or a video camera, but just by using that hashtag “Natchezthroughglass” it would generate a whole new audience interested in what’s going on with the Glass and show how they can eventually experience it themselves.”