Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (July 2011- June 2013)


Shakespeare Byte Size was a partnership project between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Serious Games Institute  (SGI, Coventry University), Hewlett Packard, and Danwood. It was funded by project partners and by the Technology Strategy Board. Other partners were The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

Project aims

  • Generate income from cultural content
  • Bring the UK's most important Shakespeare archive to life
  • Connect the digital and the physical
  • Push the boundaries of technology

Project objectives

  • Develop and trial an immersive heritage model
  • Place digital archives in marked physical locations in Stratford
  • Recreate historical digital scenes through augmented reality overlays accessible on mobile devices
  • Develop innovative business models

An iPhone app, Eye Shakespeare, was launched in June 2012 and a second version was released in June 2013.


  • Reconciling different objectives, skill-sets, and priorities of project partners
  • Creating business models around a free app to sustain development in the medium to long term
  • Defining user profiles
  • Creating content for wide range of users
  • Obtaining meaningful feedback on use of iPhone app
  • Developing an efficient workflow from app to shop for one of the income generating features of Eye Shakespeare
  • Using GPS to fix position of 3D model of a building
  • Creating a 3D model of a building from anecdotal evidence


  • External funding to support the project
  • Absence of comparable applications in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Chance to digitise museum, library and archive collections
  • Learn from other digitisation projects
  • Technical expertise from project partners
  • Partnership with the University of Birmingham (translation and expertise on 3D model)
  • Local support: working with local history groups, local businesses, and business forums during development of the app

Responding to challenges and opportunities

  • Frequent project meetings and planning at partner-level for work packages
  • Business modelling training
  • Building a variety of opportunities within the app to encourage and facilitate feedback
  • Utilising relationships with visiting groups to gain feedback
  • Fact-finding visit to the John Rylands Library and The National Archives
  • Technical trialling and market testing of workflows
  • Recruiting volunteer translators from the University of Birmingham
  • Working with historian at the University of Birmingham on the creation of a 3D model of an historic building
  • Raising awareness of the app through activities within and beyond Stratford-upon-Avon including talks, publicity and press


Eye Shakespeare app

  • 16,000 words in seven languages
  • 7,100 artefacts digitised
  • 10,000 images, 61 audio and four video files were created
  • 2,200 downloads since launch in June 2012

Technical innovation

  • E-print workflow from image creation to printing
  • 3D modelling and overlay using digital compass and gyroscope

Business models

  • Five new business models created, three currently being tested 

Learning from the project

 What went well?

  • Content creation: digitisation and creation of metadata  around images
  • Successful operation of app after trialling
  • 'Create a Souvenir' feature workflow: planning and testing of a new e-product
  • 3D model of Shakespeare's last home, New Place

What didn't go quite as well?

  • Android version of Eye Shakespeare was not created
  • Dissemination: building a marketing component into or alongside the project would have boosted awareness raising, uptake and impact. Making writing-up the innovative aspects of the project a requirement of the project would also help focus minds on what has been achieved and passing on lessons-learned
  • User profiling: aligning profiling for the app with profiling elsewhere in the organisation would have helped
  • Testing: budgeting for focus groups to work with testers would streamline the process of gathering and responding to feedback in developing the app

Developing the work in the future

The three business models will be tested and an 'Eye' package marketed to other organisations. The content will be maintained by the SBT's Collections Department and development of the app will be reviewed by a special steering group.

Find out more about the project.