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C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009

C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H

Location Aware Travel Guide: Refining Design via Paper Prototype

Mohammad Hafiz Ismail and Aznoora Osman

Faculty of Information Technology and Quantitative Sciences, Perlis,


Location aware travel guide is a mobile application that utilizes Location-Based Service (LBS) to
assist travellers along their journey at a particular destination. The use of Location-Based Service
(LBS) in tourism has been explored by other researchers such as in investigating the feasibility of
Location-Based Service in tourism as well their effectiveness in enhancing user experience while
travelling. Currently, there is no such application in Malaysia. Thus, the researchers are interested to
explore the potential use of a mobile travel guide for travellers. When travellers arrive at new places,
they would like to know information and locations about local amenities, places of interests, public
transportation and restaurants. They would also like to know the directions to go to these places as
well as the collective user reviews from previous experiences of other travellers. By using the
application, it will be able to retrieve the coordinates of the user from satellites in the form of latitude
and longitude. After that, it will be used to access important information related to the surrounding
area. Hence, this application will help travellers to find directions and access information about a
particular destination easily and accurately via their mobile device. This is a work-in-progress, thus
this paper will explain the activity that has been done during the design phase, which is
mainly about user interface design. Then it will discuss the role of LBS in the application as
well as the hardware and software platforms that have been selected to support the
development phase. The results and discussion section will cover the findings from usability
study of the user interface design.

Keywords: paper prototyping, usability-testing, mobile, GPS, rapid application development


With the advent of technology, mobile phone and PDA become ubiquitous in our daily lives, these
devices are not only limited to making calls or receiving short-messages anymore, but also provide other
information-based services and infrastructure (Kaasinen, 2002). For this reason, users particularly
frequent travelers nowadays are less likely to plan ahead of a trip and prefer to make impromptu
arrangement as they can access travelling information from the internet via their mobile devices (Pan &

However the use of mobile device as an avenue to lookup travelling information is currently limited as
users has to know a particular place of interest he want to visit in advance. as the device has no way of
showing other places of interests near the user current location that might help the user to decide which
place he should visit first (Schmidt-Belz, et al.,2003;Pan & Crotts,2007).

Currently travelers and tourist has to rely on paper brochure or internet to provide them with
information of the places they would like to visit. However the traditional method does not offer the
flexibility they might need should their travel plans changed or if they make an unplanned trip to certain
places. The traditional method requires them to be prepared ahead of time even before they start making
the trip, leaving no room for the unexpected.
Paper number: 6415198
C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H

The information provided by the traditional method is much harder to keep updated, exposing the
traveler to inaccurate information regarding the point-of-interest that he want to visit. Furthermore, the
method also does not offer customization and selection based on user preference as well as the advantage
gained from the use of folksonomy-based system to give updated information regarding the place of
interest that the traveler wishes to go (Schmidt-Belz, 2006).

The goal of our project is to develop a prototype application which can serve as a mobile information
kiosk to provide information to the traveler regarding places of interest, restaurants, public transportation
and local amenities in his current location. The prototype should also be able to allow the user to provide
his own input regarding the places that he has visited in order to help other visitors in their travel
decisions. The scope of research is limited to selected area in the state of Perlis and Kedah.


It is acknowledged in previous literature that the absent of credible and systematic user-review and
rating system of places of interest would greatly affect travel decision made by users especially when he is
on a tour. The lack of a rating system would lead user to choose a location or services such as hotels or
restaurant that might not suitable for his needs and left a less than desirable impression of a particular
place he currently visiting (Pan & Crotts, 2007; Mzila, et al. 2007).

Location-Based Service or LBS, is the ability to find the geographical location of the mobile device
and provide services based on the particular location information. Using this concept, services can now be
offered based on location information extracted from mobile devices which are more relevant to the user
from his point of view, thus adding more value to the mobile application (Tilson, et al., 2004; Prassad,

There are five components that form the basis of Location-Base Service, which are mobile device,
Communication Network, Positioning Component, Service and Application Provider and Content
Provider (Steineger, et al. 2006). The location coordinate is extracted from mobile device using
Positioning Component, which in turn utilizes GPS, A-GPS and cell tower id information to determined
current location (Petrova, 2008; Voulodimos & Patrikakis, 2007).

This location data, in forms of geographic coordinates is then fed to location-aware application to be
processed. The application will then request the relevant information to be downloaded from the Content
Provider which finally conveyed to the user. The process may use data transfer from Communication
Network provider and may incur data charges (Voulodimos & Patrikakis, 2007).

Having various ways of determining device location through Location-Based Service framework and
the accessibility of this technology on technology-neutral platform would mean that the resulting
application can be adopted widely on conforming device (Mahmoud, 2004;Hinz & Fiala, 2005).

The use of Location-based service in tourism has been explored by Pan and Crotts (2007) and
Schmidt-Belz,, et al (2003). Both works investigate the feasibility of Location-based service in tourism as
well their effectiveness in enhancing user experience while travelling. While Pan and Crotts (2007)
discusses that comments and ratings would help users to make decisions, both of the works does not
enable the users to interact with the system in ways they can submit ratings and reviews when they visited
a place to help future travelers make decision Furthermore, both works left the question of how much the
location of interest and business information relayed to the user open, thus paving the path where our
work will be focused upon.

Paper number: 6415198

C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H

Usability test is a process of evaluating the degree to which a product or system meets specific
usability criteria. The evaluation should be made by the participants who are representative of the target
population (Rubin, 1994). In usability testing, the participants work on typical tasks using the system (or
the prototype), and the evaluators use the results to see how the user interface supports the users to do
their tasks (Zaphiris & Kurniawan, 2007). Prototypes can be used to test all aspects of usability for a
system—what users will expect when they encounter parts of the system, how they will go about pursuing
their goals, how they will respond to system feedback, and what subjective reactions they will have
(Rosson and Carroll, 2002). The prototype that will be produced in the research will undergo a series of
usability test to ensure the end product satisfies the needs of travellers.


In order to develop the prototype, we chose to follow the Rapid Application Development (RAD)
technique. The first activity in this technique was designing the application. Since we wanted to iterate
the design process quickly, we have also adapted the paper prototyping technique to create and test the
design of the user interface for the application. This technique was chosen because it is fast and easy to
create. The paper prototype version was used to conduct usability study with six participants. Then
refinement was made to it and it guides the researcher in development work.

It is easier to make refinement and modification to paper prototype than to the real application due to
the complexity of its programming. Furthermore, creating the right design before actual development is a
part of activities in user-centred design. However, we would like to emphasize that the technique was
useful only in designing the layout of the content, devising the navigation from one interface to another,
determining the correct terminologies and eliciting user requirements. It was not intended to get user
feedback regarding its aesthetic look and feel and system response time because initially, gathering user
requirements and designing usable user interfaces were more important.

3.1 Prototype Creation and Usability Study

Paper prototyping is a method to brainstorm, design, create, test and communicate user interfaces. It uses
only stationeries like pencils, scissors, highlighters, paper, cardboard and sticky notes to create a mock-up
of the interface design (Snyder, 2003). However, creating paper prototype for a mobile phone and its
application is a little bit different than for a desktop application. This is due to its small screen size and its
mobility feature. The screen interface was drawn on sticky notes, while the phone prototype was created
using cardboards. The size of the phone prototype and the application interface was a bit larger than a real
mobile phone. Figure 1 shows the phone prototype and Figure 1 shows a few sticky notes that represent
the screen interface. Next, they were used to conduct a usability study with six representative users.

Figure 1: The phone prototype and example of screen interfaces

Paper number: 6415198

C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H

The first usability study was conducted in a computer laboratory with six participants. The person
involved were an instructor who coordinates the session, an observer who observes the participant while
he or she is interacting with the application and a person who becomes the “Computer”, responsible to
emulate the flow of the screen interface. Each participant was required to perform four tasks, which were
searching and viewing information of restaurants, places of interest, local amenities and public
transportation. The test took about 15 minutes per person. Then, the participant filled-in an evaluation
form to evaluate the application in terms of its navigability, design layout and terminologies used as well
as to provide suggestions for improvement. Figure 2 shows a photo of the usability test, where the user is
interacting with the application and the “Computer” is changing the screen interface to reflect the action
made by the user.

Figure 2: Usability Study

The findings from the first usability study were documented and refinements were made to the prototype.
In the second iteration, the refined prototype was used to conduct the second usability study with another
six participants. By using paper prototyping technique, the usability studies took only four days to

3.2 Location-Based Service and Positioning Technology

The application that we are developing utilizes Location-Based Service (LBS) in order to determine the
user location. LBS achieve this by using either one of these methods, the network-based positioning; the
terminal based positioning method and the hybrid method.

Source: (Steineger, et al., 2006)

Figure 3: Types of Mobile Positioning

Paper number: 6415198

C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H

In the network-based positioning method, the tracking and the determination of user-location is done by
using base-station network . This method uses mobile network data to determine user position; typically
this utilizes the cell-phone tower information (Cell-ID, Enhanced Cell-ID, Angel of Arrival AOA) which
provided service to find out the exact user position.

In terminal-based positioning (method, the location is determined by calculated by the mobile device itself
from signal received from base station, for this reason the terminal-base positioning method is also known
as device position. The most popular implementation of terminal-based positioning is Global Positioning
System (GPS). The base station for GPS is GPS satellites that transmit signal containing pseudo random
sequence (PRN) which mobile device uses to determine its current location (Steineger, et al,2006; Petrova
and Wang, 2008)

The terminal-base positioning (GPS satellites) is independent from the mobile network and vice versa,
however both of these methods yield almost the same result in ideal condition. This resulted in a hybrid
approach that utilizes both methods in determining user position. In this case, newer mobile devices
features Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) which uses network base approach to roughly determine the user location
and supplying the mobile device with calculated GPS satellite orbital data which is then use to lock the
satellite much faster than otherwise.

Generally the position obtained from terminal-based positioning method is more accurate than network
based positioning method, but the former methods is much slower and require the user to be outdoor in a
clear sky in order to lock positioning satellites. According to Steineger, et al.(2006) and Petrova & Wang
(2008), the accuracy of network-based positioning method can range between 100m to several kilometers
while GPS based positioning method has a much better accuracy of between 5m to 100m, which is the
reason we are going for the hybrid positioning method in developing our application.

3.2 Hardware and Software Platforms

The hardware platform that we choose to implement in his project is Nokia Symbian S60 3rd edition
mobile phone as it features LBS that support 3 positioning method discussed in the previous section. The
Nokia Symbian devices support the widest choice of software development platform which includes
JavaME, Python, Symbian C++ and Flashlite (Jokela, 2005).

Nokia Symbian phone hardware included integrated GPS chip capable of receiving signal from 16
GPS satellites and A-GPS capability for performing network-based positioning acquisition which is more
than adequate for the project.

Two of the software development platform identified as the potential platform for the development of
this application, but after doing more literature review, the Java Platform, Micro Edition (JavaME) was
finally chosen. JavaME is more portable across other (non-Nokia) mobile devices and it has an open
specification which mobile phone vendor can choose to implement on their own devices, offering an
advantage of portability across user segment (Read & Maurer, 2005)

JavaME is a mobile software development and runtime platform based on Java. It included a subset of
the Java language specification and a set of well-defined API that are robust and portable. The JSR-179:
Location API present in JavaME platform supports getting coordinates from LBS-enabled phone
transparently without the need to delve deeply into different hardware implementation or how the
coordinates are obtained (Broll, et al., 2007;Loytana, 2006;Jokela,2005).

Paper number: 6415198

C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H


The usability study revealed some flaws in the user interface design especially its design layout and
terminologies used. However, all participants agreed that the application was quite easy to navigate and
they could learn using it quickly. These findings have been used to guide us in designing and developing
the actual working prototype.

4.1 Design Layout

Initially, the Restaurants information was organized by sorting its names alphabetically. If the user
wants to view its information and the ratings given to it, he has to select the restaurant name and then only
full information will appear. However, during usability test, participants felt that it was not suitable. Two
participants suggested that restaurants should be organized according to category, such as Fast Food,
Malaysian Food, Thai Food and International Food. They also wanted the restaurants to be sorted
according to the ratings (star) given to it by previous travelers. Thus, restaurants with higher ratings
should appear first in the list under each category. The stars should be located right next to the restaurant
name. The same organization of information according to ratings has been changed for other places as

4.2 Terminologies

In the screen that displays information of a particular place, there is an Option menu that contains
three submenus, which were Give Ratings, Add Comment and User Recommendation. However, these
terms were not appropriately used in the context of user reviews or opinions. Thus they were changed to
Assign Ratings, Add Review and User Review respectively. The term Give Ratings was changed to
Assign Ratings as it is a more formal term. To standardize the term, Add Comment was changed to Add
Review. It will enable the user to share his review about a destination. The term User Recommendation
actually contains the collective reviews given by other users who have visited a particular place. Since
reviews can be shared as negative and positive experience, the term Recommendation was rather
confusing. Hence it was changed to User Review.

4.3 Navigability

In order to go back to the main menu of the application, the user has to press a series of Back button,
which is a hassle. To make the navigation easier, the link to Main Menu was added as submenu under the
Option menu of every screen.


The prototype is still under development and when it is completed, it will be field tested in Perlis and
Kedah. The usability study conducted in the design phase has helped in minimizing corrections that need
to be made in the source code, which ease the effort in programming. The application has
commercialization potential in the sense that businesses can use it as a medium to advertise their products
and services as well as to promote more visitations to a destination. Consequently, it can support the
growth of tourism industry in Malaysia.

Paper number: 6415198

C S S R 0 8’ 0 9 14 - 15 March 2009
C O N F E R E N C E ON S C I E N T I F I C & S O C I A L R E S E A R C H


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