The John Kent Institute in Tourism was established in November 2009 through a gift made to Bournemouth University by one of the world's leading tourism entrepreneurs, John Kent. This new BU-based Institute will fund a considerable number of PhD studentships in tourism research, starting with eleven PhDs over the next four years. I am involved as a 2nd supervisor with one of those titled "3D Mobile, Context-Aware Tourism City Applications: Technology challenges and user requirements".
The full description of this is as follows; "Context-based services are one of the most promising technology enabling developments of recent years. This is particularly the case in tourism where consumers are by definition mobile and visit unfamiliar places for business or leisure purposes. Context-aware applications are applications that adapt themselves to a given situation (or context). This mobile environment/context may include and encompass a range or combination of concepts, such as location, time and identity of user. Mobile applications for tourism with context awareness are a cutting edge development area that is expected to drive research and business agendas in the future. However, only very recently have mobile devices been able to cope with the fairly advanced technical specification needed in order to create more engaging and rewarding navigational experiences for users. Several appealing propositions for tourism attractions, retail companies and mobile operators are therefore expected to emerge from this technology.
The project will investigate the user requirements of 3D mobile applications in the tourism context. Based on these requirements and a study of existing technology, a cutting-edge, prototype using an interactive and fully navigatable 3D graphical city mapping application will be explored in a given urban location, with a number of context based parameters added on top of it to make it even more functional. The user will be able to fly and zoom through a photorealistic three-dimensional city model fluidly on his mobile device, all in 3D. An additional feature can be the introduction of augmented reality, which can operate by superimposing, using GPS and digital compass proximity and orientation, useful context-aware information on the camera display of the mobile device. Experimental trials will be conducted, examining how user requirements have been met and the usefulness of the application on a number of levels; performance, human-computer interaction, usability and contribution to customer satisfaction. It is anticipated that the research will explore fully the benefits of these technologies for purchasing decisions, interaction with the environment and context as well as customer satisfaction in the tourism context.
The project will focus on user requirements and customer satisfaction and will also contribute to mobile information systems developments within tourism context-aware applications. Hence this project has a dual contribution a) user requirements and contribution to information seeking and enjoyment within the context of the tourism industry and b) in the development of mobile information systems, user experiences, and human-computer interaction."