Chris Noessel > Masters Project: Free Range Learning Support> Genius Loci
Introduction  |  Process  |  The Service  |  Experience Prototypes  |  Conclusion  |  Appendices

Genius Loci

  When mobile learners activate the Genius Loci watcher, their learner profile and location is compared against the database. Learners are alerted to any nearby item of interest via text and, if available, an image.

Of course, learners can set parameters for these alerts to avoid being barraged.

It was noted above that learner questions are part of the database on which this service component relies. This assumes that something in the environment triggered the question in the first place. Since this is not always the case, i.e., people often think of things unrelated to their location, these items in the database are treated differently. They are represented tentatively to other users of the Genius Loci in the form of a question, e.g., "Do you see a church nearby? One user asked the following about a church in this location." If a number of learners answer "no" to such a question, the question is removed from the Genius Loci database. If a number of learners answer "yes" then the question is "solidified" in the database and treated as concrete.


Description of Use

References and Influences:

  • Semaphore: Semaphore, part of Cornell University's NOMAD initiative, is a prototype application that draws on the capabilities of a wireless networking infrastructure to deliver context dependent information to users. The prototype application will also include the ability to locate other users on the wireless network. Projected development of the application includes the ability to leave persistent notes for other users attached to a particular context or physical/virtual location. Semaphore is the technological model for Genius Loci.
  • Ambient Agoras: Part of the EU-funded Disappearing Computer initiative, Ambient Agoras aims at providing situated services, place-relevant information, and feeling of the place ('genius loci') to the users, so that they feel at home in the office, by using information technology (IT) in an innovative way, e.g., mobile and embedded in the environment. "Ambient Agoras" adds a layer of information-based services to the place, enabling the user to communicate for help, guidance, work, or fun. It integrates information into architecture through smart artefacts, and will also focus on providing the environment with memory, which will be accessible to users. The computer as a device will disappear, but the functionality will be available in a ubiquitous, and invisible fashion. Finally, "Ambient Agoras" will augment reality by providing better "affordances" and information processing to existing places and everyday objects. It aims at turning places into social marketplaces (='agora') of ideas and information where people can interact and communicate.
  • Intel R&D: Location-aware computing: Intel is dedicating some of its research and development to helping standardize (and capitalize on) location-aware computing technologies, protocols, specifications, and standards. They publish an excellent white paper on the field on their website.
  • The Dinosaur Factory: Each visitor to this Hayashibara Museum of Science receives tour aides: A PDA device called "FACT Scope" and headsets. These tools are supported by Bluetooth wireless communications technology to access our digital network at any time. Users can obtain FACTory information such as explanatory text with a digital picture and/or sound. There is also a kiosk-type query machines distributed throughout. Each participant is registered as a member. A personal page on the museum's webstie is generated automatically and contains the tour "records" which they may use for further learning at home or school.
  • DUMBO: Annotate Space is a project to develop experiential forms of journalism and nonfiction storytelling for use at specific locations. Stories are presented through text, images and audio files that participants can download from the Web to their handheld computers and take with them to the place of interest. The prototype experience is Annotate Space DUMBO, an interactive, anytime walking tour of the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).
  • London Tate Modern's Tour Devices: While multimedia tours have been trialled in the USA, this is the first in the world to use a location-sensitive wireless network. This means that visitors no longer need to spend time searching the multimedia tour to find the relevant information for a room, because the network pinpoints their exact location in the gallery and feeds the correct information to them at the right time. Genius Loci would work in this way, but over a much broader area, and with user participation in building the database.

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