Platform Research – The Curzon Project

The Curzon Memories application was created by Dr Charlotte Crofts in conjunction with the Curzon Community Cinema as a way of enhancing their exhibition (The Curzon Collection), enabling visitors to take part in the story of the cinemas past. The app uses content aware platforms to allow users to navigate the exhibition, displaying a variety of document types in different ways to help immerse the user and make the exhibition more engaging.

new-improved-curzon-app

I had researched the app last year in preparation for using App Furnace to develop a GPS based audio effects piece. This year I plan to extend on my use of App Furnace and create an application that has a similar user experience to the Curzon’s application for an Exterior tour.

p1012856_sam

The Curzon app is split into two sections, indoor and outdoor. The indoor section allows users to get historical information and short stories from the past inhabitants by the way of QR codes; A User will navigate the attraction at their own pace and desired route and will scan QR codes to enhance gain information relevant to their location or an item of interest.

The outdoor section works in a similar way to the indoor section but relies on GPS positioning to locate a user and provide content based on the users location. This is the sort of thing i’d like to implement in our Chartist walking app.

After speaking to the Apps creator Dr Charlotte Crofts she explained how the app hadn’t been updated for a number of years and that there were now new owners of the Curzon Cinema so she wasn’t even sure if the App was still in a usable state. I decided to head down to the location in Clevedon to find out if the GPS side of the app still worked and if it did what sort of experience did I have.

I parked at the Lidl supermarket behind the cinema and loaded up the app and started walking towards the cinema. Previously I had used the app in a ‘No GPS’ mode which meant I could see all the locations and select a location to explore the content. The live version of the app didn’t show any locations on the map which I thought was a bit confusing as I wasn’t sure where i should be heading to experience content.

As I walked toward the cinema a background audio began to play, I knew then I was heading in the right direction. As I approached the building a character began to speak, it was a bizzare feeling as the character mentioned people walking by with their shopping bags and that was indeed what I was seeing in real life. I stood and listened to the character giving accounts of the early days of the cinema and then headed on. I recalled when using the ‘No GPS’ Mode that a screen would pop up and allow me to replay or skip an audio/image display, this wasn’t happening in the GPS version so I had no idea how long to stay still at this spot. As I moved forward along the road the next set of audio files began to play. There was no narrative to the audio files and they could be taken in any order so it wasn’t really important that i followed a specific route.

The App told me to cross the road and look at the cinema from the front and this is where I encountered some problems. There seemed to be some overlapping of audio files and they were playing in random orders. it sounded seamless enough but there wasn’t a clear ending to each location anymore and I was just getting fed audio constantly. There was still nothing on screen to prompt me to stop the audio or give me any idea of the location I was meant to be stood in.

I turned the GPS off and looked for a location I particularly wanted to try out. One one the  locations offered the chance to switch between an old photo and the live view in the phones camera using a slider. sadly this function wasn’t working on the app. I continued walking around the outside of the cinema listening to audio that seemingly moved from character to another but I still had no idea of where to stop and get the best out of the app.

when evaluating the experience I think it was a really unique idea and very immersive especially with headphones. There are some considerations such as the user being able to see the locations of interest on a map as they walk so that they know where to head. The users need to be able to see a display that tells them when all the media has finished playing. I’d like the map to have a zoom function so that users can see the wider area and locations of interest. Consideration all has to be given to the use of headphones around a busy road. I felt quite cut off by wearing headphones and concentrating on the app and it was next to a busy road so this could cause a safety issue, especially with children.

 

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