Zapp: learning about the distant landscape

Sharples, Mike; Meek, Sam and Priestnall, Gary (2012). Zapp: learning about the distant landscape. In: 11th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2012), 15-18 Oct 2012, Helsinki, Finland.



A successful application area of mobile technology for learning has been to provide location-based guides that inform students or tourists about their immediate surroundings. In this paper we extend this location-based learning to the distant landscape, so that a visitor to an unfamiliar area can ask “what can I see over there?”, or can annotate the landscape by taking photos of distant features and adding text or audio notes that are the automatically located as points on a digital map. We describe a system, named Zapp, for learning about the distant landscape. It uses a line of sight algorithm computed over a digital surface model stored on a smartphone to determine which distant feature is showing in the centre of the smartphone camera screen. In ‘query’ mode the system can inform the user about pre-stored elements of a landscape such as names of rock formations. In ‘capture’ mode the user can store a note about a distant feature, linked to a photo and to its map coordinates. A trial of the system with university students has demonstrated its usability and usefulness in interpreting the geology of a rural landscape.

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