Computing That Serves

Exploring the Place of Computing in Outdoor Recreation

Zann Anderson
PhD Dissertation Proposal

Wednesday, January 24, 1:00 PM
3350 TMCB
Advisor: Mike Jones


Smartphones are increasingly used in activities that did not previously involve interactive computing---including outdoor recreation. In our May 2017 survey, 95% of respondents in the United States stated they preferred to bring a cell phone when hiking. We believe that well-designed interactive computing may enhance and enable, rather than detract from, outdoor recreation for many people. Other researchers have begun to explore this issue with prototype systems or by probing user experience or design ideas, however much work remains to identify and understand the role of computing in outdoor recreation. We propose to create a model of the role of interactive computing in hiking. This research will take place in three steps: Exploration, Model Construction, Validation. We choose to focus on hiking because it has a broad base and relatively low barrier to entry. We intend to measure the desires, attitudes, and motivations of hikers as it relates to hiking and technology use when hiking. We will marry this knowledge with a taxonomy of existing consumer and research technology for use in outdoor recreation in order to generate a model for the role of computing in hiking. Finally, we will build prototypes which probe important or interesting areas of this model, particularly seeking opportunities to enhance and enable the hiking experience, which will serve to refine and validate our model. The model thus generated and validated will help within the wider research community to form the foundation of a larger general theory of computing in outdoor recreation.