Android app guides first-year students around UL campus (video)
(Left to right) Dr Mikael Fernstrom, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems; Daryl Feehely, interactive design master's student; Prof Sarah Moore, vice-president academic; and Prof Don Barry, UL president
A master's degree student at University of Limerick (UL) has introduced an app that will help first-year students find their way around the 332-acre campus by scanning QR codes to access indoor maps of each of its 40 buildings.
The First 7 Weeks app, available for Android smartphones only, has been introduced as part of the First 7 Weeks programme, which eases first-year students into college life at UL. As well as information about the programme and a link to its Facebook page, the app provides users with maps of all the buildings on campus and can help guide them to a particular room.
Tapping any point on an indoor map brings up a dialogue box showing users what rooms are nearby. Alternatively, users can also search for a particular room via a drop-down list for each building that can be filtered by type (eg, lecture hall). Users can then select one of these rooms as an end-point and the app will guide them there.
To further assist lost students, QR codes have been placed around campus and scanning these will show users where they are and also automatically selects this point as a starting position.
Interactive design research
The app comes as a result of a collaborative research project between the Centre for Teaching & Learning and the Interaction Design Centre in the CSIS department at UL, headed by master's degree student Daryl Feehely. The First 7 Weeks app will be used as part of his research into interactive design, which is focused on how people use indoor maps on smartphones. Users that download the app can opt in to anonymously share their usage data with Feehely to help with his research.
“This new application for first years has a dual purpose, providing a service to newcomers to the campus as well as giving us the opportunity to analyse the most effective ways to deliver information using mobile devices and, especially, testing to see if a low-fidelity indoor map delivers sufficient information to direct a user to his or her destination,” explained Feehely.