In 2008, the EU project “Digital Djurpark” (Digital Zoo) started as a cooperation between the digital media lab at the department of Applied Physics and Electronics (TFE) at Umeå University and Lycksele Zoo. The technology behind the Digital Zoo project is a wireless sensor network that is placed in the park. This wireless sensor network collects information from the park and is able to save data for the future but also send live data outside the park. The idea behind the project Digital Zoo was to give zoo-visitors new experiences during their visit and let them be able to interact with the zoo and to give the visitor a chance to get to know the animals in a more personal way.
The objective of this thesis is to create new experiences by using media techniques and the application environment is Digital Zoo. The work can be seen as applied research because of the focus on an actual case, Digital Zoo. The major scientific challenge with this work is to use media techniques so the experience for the visitor feels like a new experience. The overall research question is: How is it possible to give the zoo visitors new experience by using media techniques? This overall question is broken down into three sub-questions: (1) How is it possible to let the visitors feel involved in the experience by using media techniques?; (2) How is it possible to adapt the experience to the visitor by using media techniques?; (3) How is it possible to integrate the experience in both the digital and the physical world by using media techniques?
To create new experience for a zoo visitor it is necessary to understand the visitor better, therefore this work become interdisciplinary, touching on aspects and approaches such as interaction, media technology, social science, and marketing. To investigate different ways to enhance the visitors experience regarding the Digital Zoo interaction, the following research methods were used: case study, surveys, interviews, prototyping, and user tests. Participants in these studies were representatives from Swedish zoos, visitor in Lycksele Zoo, and children from school classes in Umeå.
It is of importance to recognize that this work will not give a general result on how to create experiences for users. However, since this work has been based on a real case, Digital Zoo, it is most certainly possible to find results that can be applied in similar cases, e.g. in the tourist attraction section. The results are practical examples on how to create experiences using media technology within a tourist attraction. The studies resulted in applications with social media, user generated content, and Proxemic dimensions in focus. These practical examples might form a basis for influencing a future concept for tourist attractions to use.
Finally a social media game concept is proposed, the concept is combining ubiquitous information, social media and a game application. This social media game concept shows how it would be possible to integrate the experience in both the digital and the physical world involving more than one person. The participants in the game are visitors both inside and outside the zoo. The media game concept creates a new enhancing experience by using media techniques such as a wireless sensor network, social media, and applications used both on smartphones and computers.
The contribution of this work is the idea of using a game concept to create new experiences in a tourist attraction. This work shows how a game concept could combine the physical and digital worlds. The concept suggest that to create experiences for different visitors, the information should adapt to the visitors as well as letting visitors become part of the experience with, e.g., user generated content. This concept would make it possible for zoos and visitors to expand the user experience-timespan to include the time before, during, and after the visit.
Umeå: Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Umeå University , 2014. , 78 p.