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Mobile Augmented Reality for Spatial Navigation

Sharon Brosnan
University of Limerick

Abstract A powerful technology that has emerged from the

This paper describes the design of an augmented reality context aware platforms is augmented reality (AR). AR
navigational aid on a mobile phone for Bunratty Folk Park. systems layer digital information to a real world
Focusing on user interaction with a handheld mobile environment through a camera, creating a mixed reality
device, this paper specifies, develops and prototypes a [3]. This technology can enhance the users experience
digital interface for a mobile phone to aid in the navigation while allowing them to interact in the real world in natural
of Bunratty Folk Park through video content. Augmented ways [4]. Use of AR on the mobile phone is a new field
Reality is a technology that overlays virtual information on and is expanding rapidly.
to video content in real time. It enables designers to take Within museums and open-air museums like Bunratty
advantage of existing mobile technology, and has the Folk Park, an AR platform can give the user a customised
potential to allow users to interact with objects or places in experience while keeping the natural feeling of the
real time in an enhanced way. It is crucial to design the museum. Through their mobile phone, the user has ability
interface for the navigational aid as user-centred as to access information about objects on demand, allowing
possible, making it easy to use and making optimal use of them to pick and choose what information they would like
the information available for the user. Using an augmented to discover. With these enhanced capabilities the interface
reality toolkit, I will be developing the contents and has to be useable and give the user an enhanced
interaction scenarios to create an enhanced experience for experience.
the user. Following the work of the Interaction Design Centre
(IDC) based at the University of Limerick [1], it is clear
Keywords: Augmented Reality, mobile technology, user that Bunratty Folk Park would benefit from a mobile
interface. navigational aid. This mobile aid would enhance the user
1. Introduction experience, and give the user customised information
while keeping Bunratty Folk Park in it’s natural state.
This paper aims to develop a mobile prototype for the Focusing on Human Centred Interaction of handheld
navigation of Bunratty Folk Park, focusing on the design mobile device, an AR prototype will be developed to aid in
of a useable interface for the user. the navigation of Bunratty Folk Park. The ten heuristics for
Bunratty Folk Park is an Irish visitor attraction run by user interface design will be followed, along with an
Shannon Heritage, where 19th century life is recreated. iterative design process to help ensure a useable interface
Buildings from the Midwest have been relocated on the [5].
26-acre land surrounding Bunratty Castle. There are 30
buildings that are set in a rural or village setting. The 2. Methodology
buildings are outfitted, as they would have appeared in In order to have an effective system, the interface has to be
their era. Old tools and artifacts are displayed around the designed for the user. Human-centred design ensures the
Folk Park. Bunratty Folk Park attracts many visitors from system is designed to suit the needs of the user [2]. To do
Ireland and around the world annually [1]. this, it is necessary to know who the user is and what their
Mobile guides are designed for assisting users on the need is. Each user has goals and the user interface will help
move. New technologies to assist the user have developed them achieve these goals.
in the form of location aware technology. Location aware
devices or context aware devices integrate handheld 2.1 Empirical Research
computing, wireless communication and positioning It is necessary to study the context in which the visitors of
technologies. They allow for the navigation of a physical Bunratty Folk Park might use technologies provided for
space and a connected digital space at the same time [2]. them. There are several methods to gain this knowledge,
The context aware device can give information on points including interviews, observations, and case studies [6].
of interest based on their location. As mobile technology Interviews can be flexible. The interview can be short or
advances and most people have a means of mobile long, and can be structured or unstructured. They can give
communication [1], a visitor’s personal mobile phone information on the goal of the user and their attitudes
seems like the best platform to build a navigational aid on. toward the system. Observations can give useful
information on what people usually do there [7].
Once the information from interviews and detailed evaluation of the functionality and user interaction
observations are obtained it is possible to build several use [7].
cases and scenarios on how different visitors to Bunratty
Folk Park may undertake activities in the Folk Park using 3. Overview of Completed Work
the technology [7]. Scenarios allow for the exploration of 3.1 Overview of Visitor Attraction Mobile Aids
the context of use and the discovery of the requirements
As digital technologies become accepted more and more in
for the system. They are also useful for brainstorming and
our everyday lives, many visitor attractions have looked at
coming up with possibilities and solutions in the design.
ways to enhance the visitors experience with them. Many
They can give a better understanding of the current
of these attractions offer mobile aids, in the form of an
situation and any difficulties in the situation [7]. Use cases
audio or context aware aid. In order to understand the
describe the interaction between people and device. They
types of mobile platforms available, the tools that have
describe what the system does, how the system is used and
been used were investigated.  
what people do with the system. Task and functions have
It is clear that context aware guide aids are an
to be allocated to the use and results should be recorded.
established tool in visitor attractions; with their knowledge
Design issues can be noted here [7].
of the users location and history of past location, they can
2.2 Iterative Design give a tour similar to a real tour guide. Augmented reality
To design the system, an iterative process is being used. is a type of interface for context aware computing. An AR
This process is a cycle that begins with building a interface can be beneficial to a museum setting. AR allows
prototype, testing the prototype, then analysing and the user to point a camera at a point of interest, the device
redefining the design for the next cycle. Feedback from recognises its location and layers digital information on to
users is a pivotal part of iterative design. Once a design is the display [10]. It enables users to take advantage of a
completed, users test the design, problems are noted and digital world without being immersed in to a fully virtual
fixed and the interface is redesigned. The redesign is based world. AR allows the user to interact with the physical
on the feedback from the user testing. As the cycle is world in natural ways, while benefiting from enhanced
repeated the usability is improved and solutions capabilities [4].
are progressively developed for the design. An augmented reality interface presents a new
challenge in design as it allows for the exploration of a
2.2.1 Design Development physical and digital space at the same time. The digital
Storyboards will be created for the design. The details in information has to be presented to the user in a manner
the storyboard will depend on the stage of development of appropriate to the context of use. [2] A human centred
the design. Throughout the stages of development, there is design approach, using the iterative process can ensure that
an analysis stage, a synthesis phase, a simulation phase and the system is designed for the user.
an evaluation phase. Early phases are sketchy and lack
3.2 Technological Platform
details. They help understand the function of the design
and promote idea generation for the system. The later Many visitor attractions offer audio tours for extra
stages are more detailed and scenarios can be created with information. It has been proven however, that many
them. They help understand how the user will interact with visitors prefer not to take them. They offer information
the system; the behavior and the properties of the system when the user is standing in front of the object of interest,
are highlighted here [8]. which is ideal, but often give an overlong commentary.
Prototypes will be used to explore ideas for the device. With a context aware handheld tour, users choose what
Low-fidelity paper prototypes, and high fidelity prototypes information they take in. The mobile phone users prefer
will be developed for each iterative cycle. Early prototypes this experience, as they can choose on demand information
are useful. They are quickly made and allow for the and hence shape their own tour [11].
assessment of initial ideas and concepts without According to findings from the study previously
programming the entire system, such as button size. The carried out at Bunratty Folkpark, 96% of tourists own a
lo-fi prototypes will be built using materials that are mobile phone and 88% of these bring the phone on holiday
similar to the real size and weight of the device. This can [1]. As people with exposure to mobile devices find it
give more accurate feedback during the early testing stages difficult to get use to a new technological framework in a
of testing [9]. Using the information gathered from the different mobile platform [12], the development of a
low-fi prototypes, high-fidelity prototypes can be navigational aid that the user does not have to relearn is
developed. Hi-fi prototypes are detailed and similar to the ideal. This means they can use the aid with little effort
final product. User testing can answer usability questions involved. A mobile aid for Bunratty Folkpark that visitors
on the system and can give conclusions about how the user can download before visiting the centre is the clear
will relate to the final product. They can be used for a solution.
Smartphones are emerging as a main mobile platform.
With their increased computing power and rising
connectivity, they are able to browse the Internet and • There is not enough information on the map about the
access services that were usually accomplished on a buildings (what era they are from, the people who lived
computer. They have the computational tools needed for in them)
an augmented reality system. They have global tracking • Visitors mostly wander around the Folk Park, and use
tools, wireless communication capabilities and location the map to get information when they see something of
based computing. Smartphones, like the iPhone and interest
Android, have displays that are great for user interaction. • Objects inside the house are sometimes a mystery to
They are an ideal platform for a visitor’s customised the visitor
navigational aid. • Information for the visitor should be straight to the
3.3 Designing for the Mobile Platform
• Most visitors had their mobile phone and would be
Designing for mobile devices presents new challenges. The open to using a mobile device for more information on
screen size is usually small. These can have restrictions in the Folk Park
the amount of information able to present to the user, so
new methods of presenting have to be investigated.
Mental models are important in the design of the 4. Future Work
interface. This requires taking in to account what users Following these results, scenarios and user studies will be
believe to be true based on their previous experiences with developed in order to fully understand the user. User goals
similar interfaces. When organising what actions can be will be developed further from here. Details such as the
carried out, it is important to prioritise what actions are vocabulary, icons and gestures that the users expect to
used most. To take advantage of the space a list of these interact with will be investigated [6].
actions can be laid out, or the list of tools available for the Further research on designing for the mobile platform
user [6]. will be carried out. The focus will be on the organisation
The organisation of content, and the lay out the and layout of the interface, and the best way to implement
interface elements are best done using a ‘One-Window them to create a user-friendly AR interface.
Paging’, showing one page of information at a time. Using iterative design principles described in the
Important content should stand out in the design of an methodology section, an AR interface that supports
interface, and the navigation around the platform should be navigation through Bunratty Folk Park will be developed.
a priority in the design to aid in a good user experience [6]. Lo-fi prototypes will be created and tested with users. A
The iterative design process and continuous testing hi-fi prototype will then be built for use on a smartphone
allows for the design to be changed based on user platform using tool kits available online.
feedback, while keeping the process for designing an
interface for the mobile platform [7]. This will ensure the References
interface is designed for the users needs. [1] Deegan, J., Hayes, M., Bannon, L. and Ciolfi, L.
3.4 Field Work at Bunratty Folk Park (2008), “Enhancing The Visitor Experience At Visitor
Attractions Through the Adoption of Information and
From research previously carried out in Bunratty, it was Communications Technology”, Failte Ireland Thematic
found that visitors go to the Folk Park to relax and enjoy Grant Summary/report and Implementation Guidelines,
the sites at their own leisure. Visitors made it clear that December 2008.
more information should be available on the history and [2] Broadbent, J. and P. Marti (1997). “Location aware mobile
architecture of the buildings, and the people who lived interactive guides: usability issues”, Proceedings of the
there. It was also discovered that navigation and sign Fourth International Conference on Hypermedia and
posting around the Folk Park should be improved [1]. Interactivity in Museums, Citeseer, pp. 162-172.
Following this research, observation and interviews [3] Hollerer, T. and S. Feiner (2004). "Mobile Augmented
have been carried out to find out visitors goals, and what Reality." Telegeoinformatics: Location-Based Computing
and Services. Taylor and Francis Books Ltd., London, UK.
could enhance their visit. The main findings from the
observations and interviews are as follows:
[4] Mackay, W. (1998). “Augmented reality: linking real and
• Many visitors do not use the map they are given on virtual worlds: a new paradigm for interacting with
entry; for the most part visitors wander the grounds on computers”, ACM New York, NY, USA, pp. 13-21.
their own accord [5] Nielsen, J. (2005) "Ten Usability Heuristics." [online],
• Buildings are numbered for reference to the map but available:
there is no information present in front of the houses st.html [accessed: 25/11/09].
about them or in them, or about the objects in them. [6] Tidwell, J. (2005) “Designing interfaces”, O'Reilly Media,
• Events are not sign posted. Visitors are left to discover Inc.
the events themselves. [7] Benyon, D., P. Turner, et al. (2005). “Designing Interactive
Systems”, Addison-Wesley.
[8] Van der Lelie, C. (2006). "The Value of Storyboards in the
Product Design Process." Personal and Ubiquitous
Computing 10(2): 159-162.
[9] de S., M. and Carriso, L. (2006). “Low-fi Prototyping for
Mobile Devices”, ACM, pp. 699.
[10] Srinivasan, S., Z. Fang, et al. (2009). “Performance
Characterization and Optimization of Mobile Augmented
Reality on Handheld Platforms”.
[11] Samis, P. (2007). "Visual Velcro Hooking the Visitor."
[online] from http://www.aam- [accessed date: 3/10/09].
[12] Sarker, S. and J. Wells (2003). "Understanding mobile
handheld device use and adoption." Communications of the
ACM 46(12): 40.
Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography

Wendy Mackay. “Augmented reality: linking real and virtual worlds: a new paradigm for interacting with computers.” ACM
This paper investigates how digital objects can be augmented to the real world. It describes how augmentation should
occur and goes on to assess three projects, which augment paper. The author discusses the advantage of AR to their skills
and how AR can enhance their interaction with objects in the real world.
The author concludes that instead of replacing real objects with digital ones, a system should be created so that people
can interact with the real world and benefit from the digital AR platform. The author discusses the challenge of finding
an appropriate platform to combine the real world and digital information.
This is relates to my research, it asks when AR is appropriate. Although the technology is outdated, the author highlights
how important it is to seamlessly integrate the real world and AR when designing the system and also to create a system
that enhances the users interaction with the real world not create a new world.

W. Schwinger, Ch. Grün, B. Pröll, W. Retschitzegger, and A. Schauerhuber "Context-awareness in Mobile Tourism Guides."
Handbook of Research on Mobile Multimedia, Second Edition Information Science Reference (2009).
This paper evaluates the context of use and adaption of several context-based tour devices and discusses the possibilities
for ubiquitous computing (time and location awareness with possibility for a personalised service platform), in the tourist
industry. This could be used for tailored tourism information on points of interest.
After in-depth research the author concludes that the devices studied cover many functions that a context-aware tour
should have, but none of them support all the criteria that should be supported. The author finds that most devices had
poor CPU power and that this is a big limitation. The author also shows that memory in some devices could be reserved
by having push based access. They found that social factors are important in tourism. Functionality should be high and
text messaging could be a good feature for the devices.
I believe that smartphones could overcome the power issue a put forward by the author. The ideas on context-aware
technology in tourism are very interesting. It also finds that what some context-aware systems are lacking in area like
social and certain standards. I will be getting some of my design criteria from this paper.

Annika Hinze and George Buchanan. “Context-awareness in mobile tourist information systems: challenges for user
interaction” (2005).
This paper discusses the challenges in context handling in mobile tourist information systems, and investigates a system
that gives the user information on points of interest based in the users context. It discusses the concepts and usage of
context-awareness systems, and the management of the information. It promotes the development of a personal profile,
which knows the users travel history and current information, which could give recommendations to the user based on
the profile and user feedback. It also promotes navigation support in the system.
This paper is quite relevant to my project. It promotes forming a model of the user and how they will interact with the
system. For handheld devices it promotes contextual hierarchy browsing for the small screens, I plan on looking in to
this hierarchy further. It also brings up privacy issues that I had not thought about before reading it.

Gregory D, Abowd, Christopher G. Atkeson, Jason Hong, Sue Long, Rob Kooper and Mike Pinkerron. "Cyberguide: A
mobile context aware tour guide." Wireless Networks 3: (1997) 421-433.
This paper discusses Cyberguide, a project where they built a series of prototypes of a mobile context aware tour that
knew the users current location and history of past locations. The long-term goal of the project was to develop a device
that would know where the tourist is, what they are looking at and predict and answer questions about the environment
around them.
This paper is from 1997, the technology used is out-dated and many of the 'possible future' prospects have been
developed since. The paper has many relevant points to Augmented Reality navigation systems, like communication,
map support and information support. This paper is not only good for ideas around context-aware systems, but it also
goes through the design process with a few prototypes of their system which is coming in very handy with my

Benyon, D., P. Turner, et al. Designing Interactive Systems, Addison-Wesley (2005).

This book discusses Human Computer Interaction in designing interactive systems. The aim of the book is to be a guide
to HCI in the design field. It discusses essential components of design, people and their use of technologies, and
activities and contexts that technologies may be used in. It shows what every systems GUI should have and lays out
some methods of gaining information from the user on what should be included in the design.
I found this book useful as an overview for HCI and design. I gained knowledge on scenario building and it gave me
outlines on contexts of use and designing for a single user interface. It gives some great methods of prototyping and
other design methods, which interlink with iterative design process.

Jonathan Broadbent and Patrizia Marti. “Location aware mobile interactive guides: usability issues”, Proceedings of the
Fourth International Conference on Hypermedia and Interactivity in Museums (1997) pp. 162-172.
This paper discusses HIPS (Hyper Interaction within Physical Space), which is the development of a handheld electronic
tour guide for cities and museums and to promote the exploration of the physical environment. The paper describes the
development and design of a prototype; user testing was done in Museum of Santa Maria.
The author integrates handheld computing, wireless communications, positioning technologies and a system guide to
generate audio messages for information on items of interest, and alternate routes. Information is generated based on
maps, spatial direction. The system incorporates user requests, history of browsing and location.
The system is designed iteratively, discussing the practices that the designers used. The design is centred on user; this
type of design ensures that the system is suited to the users needs. The context aware tour allows the author to give rich
information in an information space, rather then being bound to the physical world. It discusses the benefits of
information being shown to the user in a way suitable to the user and the context of use.
From this paper, I gained a better understanding of the iterative design process. It confirmed the benefits of the testing of
prototypes to eliminate error, and confusion in the system, as well as identifying sources of satisfaction. It illustrated the
benefits of a central database and a networking aspect for the system.

Marco de Sa and Luís Carrico. Low-fi prototyping for mobile devices, ACM (2006).
The author analyses several papers on design and ubiquitous computing to find good design approaches for the mobile
device. The paper focuses on the early stages of designing mobile devices, the evaluation of the context of use and low-
fidelity prototyping. The aim of the paper is to suggest design methodologies for the mobile device, as it is can lead to
new challenges. They discuss how standard user interface design can be implemented to small screens, and gives many
tips on how to build a useful low-fi prototype, that allows the user to get a better understanding of how the system would
work in the real world, hence giving the designer much more constructive feedback to assess their design with.
This paper is very useful to the designing of the interface for my navigation system. There are great suggestions on how
to evaluate and low-fi prototype a mobile system. I will be using recommendations from this paper, such as building a
prototype that is similar in size and weight to the finished product, not just a paper prototype, and sketches for the
prototype testing should be the same size and have the same font as the real device. This allows for interaction similar to
the real world use of the device.

Deegan, J., Hayes, M., Liam Bannon and Luigina Ciolfi. “Enhancing The Visitor Experience At Visitor Attractions Through
the Adoption of Information and Communications Technology”, Failte Ireland Thematic Grant Summary/report and
Implementation Guidelines (2008).
The paper shows how mobile technology can enhance visitor satisfaction. It discusses the progress, studies and the
prototype device developed for Bunratty Folkpark. The prototype is built to encourage to visitors to visit other parts of
the centre, give them information on the restaurants or shops (location/menus), and give them more information about
the Folkpark.
The visitor uses a mobile device that they have (their mobile phone) and information is sent directly to their device via
Bluetooth. The software is designed so that it is fully interactive, easily expandable, and staff of the centre can add new
content at any time. The paper describes how the information is transmitted via Bluetooth and the practical issues related
to the implementation of the technology.
There are a lot of recommendations in this paper that will come in useful in my research. I will be using it as a basis for
my work. Usability, experience and engagement are highlighted in the paper, and there are very useful statistics.

Tobias Hollerer, and Steven Feiner. "Mobile Augmented Reality." Telegeoinformatics: Location-Based Computing and
Services (2004).
This paper gives a brief history of augmented reality and the benefits of it. It gives reviews of several AR technologies
and the data required for it, such as wearable computing and gives potential futures for mobile augmented reality systems
(MARS). The paper goes on to investigate potential areas where MARS could be implemented, and the challenges and
the technological requirements that would allow this to happen.
It identifies the different areas that AR technology could be implemented; the area that I am most interested in is the
tourist industry. Here, the paper determines that AR could be used to find destinations and display background
information on these places or objects, as well as show the user related objects/places.
It determines that there are several challenges that come with applying AR to technology. It goes on to show a developed
MARS platform, and gives some recommendations for the field in the future.
This paper addresses several issues, such as wearable MARS. This seems outdated. Mobile phones have the necessary
computing power to contain AR technology. There are several good points raised on the benefits of AR technology, but
also drawbacks. It defines what properties a good MARS user interface needs, and lays out some points that the UI
designer will have to overcome.

Sadagopan Srinivasan, Zhen Fang, Ravi Iyer, Steven Zhang, Mike Espig, Don Newell, Daniel Cermak, Yi Wu, Igor
Kozintsev, Horst Haussecker. “Performance Characterization and Optimization of Mobile Augmented Reality on
Handheld Platforms” (2009).
This paper analyses the computing and memory requirements of an augmented reality based software on an Intel®
Atom™™™ platform. The paper recognizes that AR is gaining ground in the mobile usage market, and analyses the
mobile augmented reality (MAR) workload on a low power general-purpose device. After an in-depth examination of the
handheld devise, several optimisations are suggested for MAR performance, which in this case enhanced performance by
This paper shows that AR technology is possible for handheld devices. Although some research must be done to enhance
AR software processing on some mobile devices, this powerful technology has the potential to work well on mobile

Rebecca E. Grinter, Paul M. Aoki, Amy Hurst, Margaret H. Szymanski, James D. Thornton, and Allison Woodruff.
“Revisiting the visit: understanding how technology can shape the museum visit” ACM (2002).
This paper discusses museum visitors shared experience and their interactions with each other through a context aware
audio guidebook. Open speakers are an issue in most museums, and earphones can isolate visitors from their companion,
with this in mind the collaborative guidebook was developed to allow social interactions. The paper reflects on the
different communal uses that the visitors find for the system.
From reading this paper I decided not to build a navigation aid with an audio tour. The author made the isolation that
audio tours can present very clear. Although the collaborative aspect is interesting, I believe that this can be gained with
an augmented reality system.
J Nielsen. "Ten usability heuristics." 2005 Useit. Accessed on: 25/11/09
The author describes usability guidelines for designing a user interface. The heuristics are the good characteristics of a
user interface. The author promotes the importance of user control, links between the real world and the system.
Consistency is highlighted as very important, as well as minimalism and efficiency of use. With these guidelines, the
author hopes to emphasise how a good UI should work.
These usability heuristics are good for designing software. I find it useful to have a list of flexible instructions to design
by. It is simple, and all of the heuristics make sense when designing an interface that a user finds easy to navigate

Suprateek Sarker and John D. Wells. "Understanding mobile handheld device use and adoption." Communications of the
ACM Vol 46(12) (2003): 40.
This paper discusses the results of an on going investigation into the key factors that affect people’s use and adoption of
mobile devices. The paper assesses the adoption of such devices through social analyses. It reveals that demographics,
degree of confidence in technology, and context of use can all affect the embracing of a mobile phone. Coverage for a
users mobile phone network is shown to be an inhibitor when adopting a phone, as well as a delayed response from the
This paper allows me to get more information on why people use their mobile phone. It indicates that speed of a device
and it’s software is a factor in mobile adoption. Their research shows that users find difficulty in switching from their
current technological frames to new ones, including different features on the device and different keystrokes to
accomplish a task. This indicates that users operating their own mobile device with my AR system may feel more
comfortable than if I developed a new device for them.

Corrie van der Lelie "The value of storyboards in the product design process." Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Vol:10(2)
(2006): 159-162.
This paper emphasises the importance of storyboards throughout the design process. The author discusses idea
generation and the essential need to convey these ideas visually. The author explains how significant storyboards can be
to visualise ideas and the levels of detail that the storyboard can evoke.
This paper is very useful for my project. Storyboards are pertinent to planning and design. There is great detail available
through this on how to make the most of storyboards and using them while designing.

Peter Samis "Visual Velcro Hooking the Visitor." 2007. American Association of Museums. Accessed on: 03/10/2009
This author discusses the digital social learning environments that museums have undertaken to enhance the visitors’
experience. The author recognises the need to appeal to the visitors of a museum. He uses specific examples of
technologies in museums to illustrate his points. He discusses various methods and results that have been found.
Some visitors want information before their visit, but most visitors want information when they are standing in front of a
piece of art work. The author believes that the more a visitor knows about a subject, the more they can learn about it.
Through research from museums, he reveals how visitors of differing age groups use the technologies. He also discusses
how these group like to experience the museum. Older visitors prefer audio tours as they provide a full immersive
experience, while the mobile phone user prefers to shape their personal experiences of the museum with no commitment
to learn about everything.
The author claims that the visitor needs a series of information resources along the route of their tour, not a ‘single
choice point’ when they enter the museum. A mix of both analog and digital resources may be the best way to improve
the visitors experience.
This paper gives very relevant information on implementing digital technology to a museum setting. The general
discussion provides a useful overview of implementing digital technology to a museum setting and could be used in my
research to support a conclusion.