15 Students Involved in Pre-Pilot Testing
Over the past 10 days we have begun testing our pre-pilot biodiversity application on-site, gaining some valuable feedback, bug reports and suggestions for improvement.
The UoE Biodiversity dataset (not currently availble publicly) within Layar has been accessed by around 15 students from various academic disciplines using a variety of their own hardware devices – including the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 running iOS, HTC Hero and HTC Desire phones as well as a Samung Galaxy Tab.
General feedback has been very positive, and we have gained a valuable insight into how students have used the app to explore and engage with parts of the campus – some having never previously visited.
Most feedback and suggestions for improvement appear to be limited by the Layar platform itself, most notably:
- The option within Layar to locate a particular species/point of interest (POI) is tricky as there is a lack of search facility within specific ‘layars’ themselves. Indeed, the slow refresh GPS refresh rate can also make locating a species using proximity/radar indicators appear unreliable.
- It is a common scientific convention to note Latin species names in italics. This does not appear to be possible to within the POI title in Layar, although names can of course be displayed using italics within the HTML web pages.
- There were also some problems with the display of ‘floaticons’, as on occasions default grey circles are displayed instead of the specified custom icons. We suspect this may be related to the the beta Hoppola Augmentation content management system for Layar.
- There are inconsistencies in the way video was displayed, with some mp4 video files being unavailable. Further investigation suggests that Hoppola may prefer video files in the mobile-standard 3gp format.
- The default floaticon size may be too large, as several icons can hide a large part of reality as seen through the camera. This is particularly pertinent when users are within metres of more than one POI, as floaticons become larger within prominent when close to species.
Despite these issues, students were impressed with the concept of the system, spending time exploring the survey area in detail. In particular, non-biology students were viably engaged and interested by the current system – with students taking time to read the associated species ‘more information’ web pages in detail and share facts with the rest of the group.
Video footage of pre-pilot tests to be added soon to our YouTube channel.