Put a Local New York City Guide in Your Pocket: See the City’s Most Interesting Neighborhoods and Learn its History Via Your Mobile Device

Racontours is the First Company to Offer Interactive, Multimedia Self-Guided NYC Tours ‘To Go’

Marrying Cutting-Edge Mobile Technology With NYC Historical Archives

NEW YORK, July 20 /PRNewswire/ — Visitors to New York (and New Yorkers themselves) can now have their own private tour guide for many of New York City’s most interesting neighborhoods — and a personal window into the little-known recesses of the city’s storied past — for less than the price of a bus tour. And they can carry the tour guide in their pocket.

Racontours Inc. is the world’s first company to offer fully integrated multimedia self-guided tours for handheld digital devices. Through its Voyager(TM) software, a revolutionary new software platform for mobile devices, Racontours provides interactive self-guided walking tours of historical areas throughout Manhattan that can be downloaded and played on virtually any PDA, smartphone or MP3 player.

Racontours’ Voyager is the first touring system to integrate interactive maps, audio and visual material on mobile devices. No other self-guided tours provide images, video and scalable vector maps for the user.

Up, Down and All Around the Town

There are currently six tours of Manhattan available for download from Racontours’ website (http://www.racontours.com)/ Central Park, Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan, Soho, South Seaport and Washington Square. Payment of a nominal fee ($14.95) allows the user to download and license the tour to his or her handheld device; couples pay half-price for a second copy of the same tour so they can take it together.

The tours enable sightseers to guide themselves — according to their own pace and interests — through the streets and paths of the area of interest. Like a well-versed raconteur, each tour recounts stories, intrigues and little known facts while winding through a particular neighborhood.

Each tour is completely interactive and user-driven, and includes an audio track, interactive maps and synchronized images that help the sightseer maintain his or her bearings throughout the tour. At the same time, the user can enjoy seeing old photos and pictures of how specific points on the tour looked in days gone by, and historical maps showing how Manhattan’s modern-day labyrinth of streets and avenues evolved.

For Tourists from Anywhere — Including New York

Michael Guthrie, Founder & CEO of Racontours: “One of the best things about living in New York are the stories — from Donald Trump to Babe Ruth to Fiorello LaGuardia. As New Yorkers ourselves, we built Racontours as a vehicle for recounting these tales and connecting the user with this storied city around us.”

No Getting Lost — No Looking like a Tourist

Newcomers are seamlessly guided through New York’s maze of streets with a triple-tiered set of directions: an audible guide telling you where to turn and what to look for, a complete set of photos to navigate by, and a high-resolution, scalable map that shows you where you are at all times. With Racontours, there’s no getting lost.

What’s more, you won’t look like a tourist. You can leave the guidebook at home, fold up the paper map, and stroll through the city, mobile device in hand, like a long-time resident on his way home.

Some Highlights from the Tours
Among hundreds of new facts about New York, tour users will learn:

* Where John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators first hatched the plot
to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
* Where Edgar Alan Poe first read his poem “The Raven.”
* The location of the smallest piece of real estate on the tax rolls of
NYC — less than two square feet.
* Where the phrase “86 them!” originated (and what it means), and its
connection to a Prohibition-era speakeasy and a stop on the Underground
Railroad used to help slaves move north to freedom during the Civil War.
* How Tammany Hall used zoo animals to mow the lawn of Sheep’s Meadow in
Central Park.
* The Central Park South apartment that saw the birth of the children’s
story, The Little Prince.
* The former headquarters of Mafia don John Gotti.
* Which street used to be considered “the most dangerous in America” –
and was made famous by the recent popular film The Gangs of New York.

At each point on the tour, users can compare the site as it is today with old pictures and photos of the way it looked years ago.

Additional Details

* Each tour contains 120 to 150 images and photos and takes about two
hours to complete, if done from start to finish.
* Tours can be downloaded and licensed to the user’s mobile device for
$14.95, and then used as often as desired. For couples, a second copy
of the same tour can be downloaded for half price.
* Earphones are recommended to hear the audio tracks over any traffic
noise.
* Users can toggle back and forth between destinations on the maps and
their images by touching a command icon on the screen (or a key on a
control pad).
* Users can easily replay or skip to any part of a tour, or pause briefly
to take a phone call, or indefinitely to have a meal or further peruse
a point of interest and its surroundings.

A Look Behind the Curtain — Taking Mobile Technology Beyond Gaming

Until now, the use of cutting-edge, mobile technology has been reserved for games. Now, for the first time, the vast majority of mobile device users can download SVG (scalable-vector-graphics)-based touring software to accompany them on their travels.

Because it is Java-based (J2ME — Java 2 Micro Edition), Voyager 2.0 — Racontours’ software platform for mobile devices — is compatible with a wide variety of operating systems and mobile devices. Voyager enables each tour to customize itself automatically to the user’s device. No technological expertise is needed beyond the ability to log on to the Internet and download a file.

Scalable vector graphics, in the form of SVG-t (Scalable Vector Graphics – - tiny), provide the user with content, such as maps that are redrawn at every level of focus, thereby compensating for limited screen sizes.

Compatibility with Mobile Devices and Operating Systems

Currently, the Voyager platform is compatible with virtually all PDA’s, Smartphones and MP3 Players, and supports the following mobile-specific operating systems:

* Pocket PC 2002
* Pocket PC 2003 (Windows Mobile)
* Pocket PC Phone Edition
* iPod

Ease of Use

“The technology underlying our tours is unique — and highly sophisticated. But for the user who is more interested in the content of a tour than the technology enabling it, it’s all completely behind the scenes and invisible. If you can use the Internet, then you can download our tours. And if you can point a stylus — or use a mobile key pad — then you have all the skills you need to use them to guide yourself through New York City with the help of a tour from Racontours,” said Mr. Guthrie.

About Racontours

Racontours, Inc. combines a love of history with cutting-edge technology to develop and market self-guided interactive tours that operate on a wide range of mobile devices. Founded in 2003 and headquartered in New York, Racontours provides downloadable, self-guided tours for six neighborhoods and parks in the city, and is dedicated to developing similar tours for other cities, both in and outside of the United States. Racontours Inc. is the world’s first company to offer fully integrated — and interactive — multimedia self-guided tours for mobile devices. For more information and a free demo go to http://www.racontours.com/.

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