Collecting and Sharing Location-based Content on Mobile Phones in a Zoo Visitor Experience

The augmentation of visitor experiences with location-based technologies has been available for some time. Through in-depth studies of users during these experiences the field is building a rich picture of user behaviour in relation to certain location-based technologies. However, little work has explored the use of mobile camera phones and 2D barcodes on situated signs and their properties as a way of delivering such augmented visitor experiences. In this paper we present a study of people engaged in such a location-based experience at London zoo in which they use mobile camera phones to read 2D barcodes on signs at the animal enclosures in order to access related content. Through the fieldwork we highlight the social and collaborative aspects of the experience and how particular characteristics of the mobile phone and barcode technology shape these behaviours. The paper also highlights some of the non-instrumental aspects of the location-based experience, in particular in relation to the importance of collecting location-based content. We explore the social aspects of collecting as well as certain competitive elements it introduces into people’s behaviour. This creates an interesting tension in that aspects of the application encourage cooperation and sharing among the visitors whereas others encourage competition. In the course of presenting the fieldwork, we explore this tension further.