Location-based and context-aware multimodal mobile hiking guide
Background & Objectives
New ways of getting information are beginning to be available for the nature lover and hiker. Location-based information about the landscape, history and culture can be received on the spot with the help of Galileo satellites. The technology that was initiated by the Austrian company, Telesis, is based on the mobile telephone and the PDA, both of which need to be connected to a Galileo receiver (currently GPS is used). If a hiker gets close to a point of interest (POI), their phone or PDA will draw their attention to it by vibrating or sending an audio signal. Users can then access the location-based information sent to them.
LOCCATA is a mobile, digital hiking guide in the form of a PDA or mobile phone with pictures, texts and audios. The software ascertains the position of the hiker with the help of satellites and makes location-based information available to them.
Based on research in mobile applications and context-aware and multimodal interfaces, a lightweight mobile phone hiking assistant application was developed. Selected modules of the mobile application development framework were used and adapted for use on a Java-enabled phone. Complementing existing approaches of accessing broadband networks, the application relies on standard GSM phone services. Employing the Mobile Java (J2ME) Bluetooth capabilities, any mobile phone equipped with it can be used to query an external positioning receiver for a current location. The system forms an unobtrusive companion that employs different modalities to meet the requirements, allowing the user to continue walking, enjoy their route but still be informed. The MontaPhone application is a new and innovative way to retrieve in-depth spoken narratives.
The application can be downloaded from the LOCCATA website. The SmartGuide is an innovative mobile application for Windows Mobile enabled devices (e.g. PDAs or Smartphones) bundling the latest development from research in mobile applications and systems into the domain of tourism. Because of the higher computing power and storage capacity of these devices compared to cell phones, the realisation of more ambitious applications is possible. The SmartGuide is able to provide a multimedia-enriched hiking experience with personalised and location-aware information.
At the moment the Digital Hiking Guide on the PDA contains a movable map, which has a 3x zoom. The entire route is shown on the display. The map shows the route, the points of interest and the current position of the user. The user can also keep track of where he has been. By pressing a point of interest the user can access historical, natural landscape and cultural landscape information in the form of texts, pictures and narratives. Due to the flexible framework on which the SmartGuide application is based it is easy to extend the application and enable Galileo support as soon as the appropriate receivers are available. In contrast to previous systems, the openness of the architecture is one of the main ideas of the software components. One group of software is object models. These models define the real memory representation of objects and their services for construction and destruction.
Furthermore they specify communication channels between objects. This group includes programming language dependent on and programming language independent of object models. A second group is component models. Components, which can also be referred to as modules, are objects that encapsulate the functionality and data on a higher level of abstraction than the object models. The component models define interfaces and concrete rules for the design and implementation of software components based on object models. A software component usually consists of different objects, which are combined to solve a certain task.
The objective of the LOCCATA project was the implementation of a location-based and context-aware mobile multimodal hiking guide application for the Montafon region in Austria. The technical work was divided into two parts: first the development of mobile clients and secondly the development of the relevant content.
Work performed & results
All the objectives of the project were reached and a highly sophisticated system was designed and implemented. Currently six hiking routes with more than 80 points of interest are entered in the system and additional routes are already in development. The tourism institutions in the Montafon region have committed themselves to introducing the system to the public and the project partners are available to adapt the system to future requirements.