The project deployed a series of studies and trials to explore the use of missions, games and user authoring to playfully engage the public in exploring, and sharing information about their local environment. We used sensors, mobile, web, big screen and IPTV technologies, and supporting software platforms, to encourage user participation at different locations and times.

In parallel, we worked with a network of schools in a series of multi-study technology-supported science activities in which data collected via portable devices could be augmented with contextual audio, images and video in a shared online environment. Our tools enabled the upload and sharing of scientific environmental data between schools.


Here are a few examples of our user trials. Use the links below to find out more. Details on trial results can be found on our publications page.

Bicker Manor - Time to Pick Sides  main image

a cross-media environmental campaign, which prompted players to participate in a series of 'eco-missions' over mobile, web and IPTV.

Participate Schools  main image

supporting schools across the UK to collect environmental data, create movies and posters, and share their data and outcomes online.

Stories@Kew  main image

a located experience inviting the public to discover the stories of Kew, and create their own video stories in response.

Prof Tanda's Guess-A-Ware  main image

a 'contextually aware' mobile game that encouraged players to build a picture of their lifestyle in relation to the environment.

Mutliple Perspectives via SenseCam  main image

a wearable camera and supporting application that helped users gain new insights into everyday life.


Bicker Manor - Time to Pick Sides

Mobile SMS/MMS Website BT Vision IPTV

Bicker Manor was an interactive game experience that playfully asked members of the public to engage in a series of 'environmental' missions, challenging them to reflect on the impact their actions have on the environment. A pilot of Bicker Manor ran for 21 days in November 2008 with approximately 80 players taking part.

A fictitious family named 'the Bickers' provided a framework for the experience and enabled players to share a common goal. The campaign was introduced by Michaela as contest between her parents; Eve, a green environmental evangelist, and Isambard, a thrifty skeptic. Players were asked to choose between Eve and Isambard as their host character, and both offered missions which challenged users to do a variety of activities and tasks on their behalf. The overall goal for players was to have a fun experience engaging in a variety of playful, educational and challenging missions, in an attempt to support their chosen character in winning the family contest.

The website was the core of the experience and provided full functionality for players to engage with all aspects of the campaign. Players were encouraged to register their mobile phone, after which they were sent and could respond to missions via SMS and MMS. BT Vision, the broadband supported television service, enabled players to select and complete missions on their TV, in addition to viewing and rating UGC submitted by other players.

Bicker Manor was implemented within a generic, reusable mission engine that supported the fundamental mission logic of the Bicker Manor experience. Web based management tools were created to support distributed authoring and testing of missions, moderation of submitted UCG, and enable the overall orchestration of the campaign experience.



Participate Schools

Datalogger Mobile Sensor Website

The objective was to engage pupils in science learning by providing engaging tools to conduct and report upon their own scientific investigations. During the project children collected data on environmental parameters, using mobile sensors which include phones, dataloggers and GPS equipment, and digital cameras. They were able to visualise their collected data in Google Earth(TM) or Google Maps(TM), and then share it with pupils and teachers in other schools via a secure website.

The trials sought to provide children with the tools to collect, visualise and discuss their own scientific data as an effective and engaging way to learn about science. This has the potential to help them engage at a basic level with data provided by professional scientists, and thereby with scientific practice.

The participating schools took part in 'missions' posted to the Participate Schools website by professional scientists and teachers. As well as collecting local environmental data, pupils have also participated in the production of 60 second films and digital online posters about science based issues.

The outputs from these activities has been uploaded on to the Participate Schools Website. The website has a public showcase and a password protected study area.

The website is still active and schools taking part are be able to:

1. View their work and that of other schools

2. Build their own collection of material over time

3. Start collaborations with other schools around the country

4. Discuss their findings online

To find out more visit Participate Schools Website main image




Call to Action Creating Video Story Reviewing Stories

Stories@Kew was a located experience which encouraged participants to explore Kew Gardens, with a video enabled mobile device, and discover virtual points of interest embedded in the landscape. Reaching a specific location would unlock a mixture of professional footage (BBC archive, and staff interviews) and user generated videos on the device, as well as a related question or promt aimed at encouraging participants to record their own videos.

Stories@Kew was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for 5 days during the Easter Holidays, from 5th to the 9th April 2007. Over 100 groups of participants took part, some sharing a device, for periods of 2 hours or more and recorded hundreds of unique video clips which were direct responses to the located prompts.

Several technologies were trialed; a Nokia 6630 with GPRS video upload direct to the host, a GPS enhanced Nokia N73 with an interactive map alerting the user to POIs, and Microsoft's 'Snap and Grab' enabling the transfer of video clips via bluetooth between a public display and a mobile device.

The Stories@Kew study focused on methods to engage a broad user base in the consumption and creation ofthemed content which had a direct relation to the features of the local landscape and which had value to the host organisation. We wanted to understand how the general public can be encouraged to take part and participate in a structured experience that takes them beyond passive consumption of media, towards the creation of directed content for others to experience.

Within Stories@Kew moderated User Generated Videos were placed back into the system for other participants to see in context on the mobile device, whilst also being made available to participants on a public display at Kew Gardens. Participants could see editorialised content on the Stories@Kew public website, and access their own recordings in their own private area on the site.

A further study explored how the user generated content could augment a television show, for example 'A Year at Kew' over IPTV.



Prof Tanda's Guess-A-Ware

Tanda Calling Phone Interface Dialogue

Professor Tanda's Guess-A-Ware was a pervasive mobile phone-based game in which a character, Professor Tanda, asked players questions about their day to day activities and life to establish their environmental footprint.  

Prof. Tanda lived on your mobile phone and interacted with you, twice a day. Play sessions lasted between 2 and 10 minutes and involved activities such as answering questions in a quiz, performing a task for Prof. or doing some activity with the people that you were with at the time. He appeard as a small graphical character on your mobile phone. He spoke through speech bubbles; inviting players to respond to instructions, to select answers from multiple choice questions or to enter text into forms to interact. He combined serious questions with playful ones. Over the course of the game, Prof. Tanda aimed to provide both an amusing diversion and give context/user sensitive information to the player.

The main goal of the project was to develop an interactive mobile phone-based game that collected environmental and location-based (contextual) data on the users, in order to provide relative information on their environmental footprint and persuade them to alter their habits to more environmentally friendly ones.

We wanted to investigate how to develop and deploy large-scale, mass-participatory pervasive systems, evaluate where, when, and why people play, examine user behaviour and attitudes towards persuasive systems and collect data relating to the users’ understanding of place, activity, and time.

The technological goals were; to develop a platform that can be used by any mobile phone handset, have the ability to collect rich data in order to build a profile of the user and provide user-based context and to automate the content. So the game could ask appropriate questions, based on the user’s profile and context.

This initial implementation of Prof. Tanda was trialed by 30 players for two weeks in 2007. In general, they reported enjoying their interactions with the central character in the game, especially the way in which it engaged them in local activities.



Multiple Perspectives Via SenseCam

Playing Shopping Bicycle

SenseCam, a life-logging device, is a wearable camera with a wide-angle lens, which takes photographs at regular intervals. Up to 3000 images might be recorded in a typical day, and the resulting image sequences can be ‘played back’ using bespoke software. We were interested to see what would happen if not only individuals were provided with SenseCams, but if households were loaned multiple cameras that could be worn simultaneously.

We wanted to explore whether users would reflect on the lives of each other, how they might consider their own experiences when juxtaposed with those of their fellow householders, and whether SenseCams were indeed successful at providing new insights into everyday life.

Six households were given multiple SenseCams to use over the course of one week. The resulting image streams were used to trigger reflections, both on the users’ own lives and on those of each other, and to offer new insights into the everyday. Further, reflection was invited not only by the images that were captured, but also when wearing, or seeing others wear, the camera. These reflections pertained to aspects of everyday life, to elements of one’s own character, and to the way that oneself is presented to others.





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