PlantTracker® In-Situ Information Access System

PlantTracker with light filter being shown

PlantTracker® is a system for outdoor environments that supports exploration and discovery by maintaining and leveraging the subject-object relationship and providing context.

A new medium begins as a mime of a past form of representation. As the medium matures, its unique affordances are discovered and maximized. The discovery of each new medium has benefitted man by providing him with access to new and more information. The tradeoff is the distancing of ourselves from the objects of our interest.

Where does digital technology fit in? Computers are giving us access to vast amounts of information in a remediated manner. Websites are refashioned print and broadcast media. Cell phones are cordless phones with extended range. Media players are like phonographs, radios, VCRs and cassette players, only smaller, ligher, more portable with larger information storage capacities. As it remediates all other media, digital technology offers a multimedia view of our objects of interest. But what is it's unique power?

Digital media can return us to a physical subject-object relationship while allowing us access to information. This return to the subject-object relationship will support exploration and discovery by providing physical context. It will put us back in touch with the aura of our objects of interest.

PlantTracker® is a system for outdoor environments that supports exploration and discovery by maintaining and leveraging the subject-object relationship and providing context. Research in mixed reality, tracking technologies and small-screen form factors is used in conjunction with information visualization techniques to design an interface that is less text-driven, and supports exploration and discovery.


I. Executive Summary

II. Introduction

    1. Problem Space and Current Solutions
      a. kiosks and/or signage
      b. dedicated structures
      c. paper-based material
      d. physical footpaths

    2. Previous PlantTracker® Work

    3. Proposed Revised Solution
III. Historical Context
    1. From Paper-based Presentation...

    2. ...To Digital Presentation
IV. Methodology
    1. Research

      a. mixed reality and its current applications
      b. current tracking technologies (GPS, wireless, video-based)
      PART TWO
      c. form factors (limited screen space, mobility)

    2. Review previous work
      a. task analysis (users, tasks, environment, models)
      b. current system analysis
      c. requirement specifications
      d. usability criteria

    3. Analyze the data (quantitative, nominal, ordinal)

    4. Design

      a. rationale
      b. illustrations

      c. design the testing

    5. Implement
      a. develop final prototype
      b. implement testing

    6. Assess

The PlantTracker prototype can be accessed via your browser. (Comments are welcome, and should be sent to Maryann Westfall.)


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© 2004 Jumping Weasel Corporation. All rights reserved.



• Jay Bolter
• Peter McGuire
• Elizabeth Mynatt


support exploration and
   discovery in addition to
   traditional search/find
maintaining and
   leveraging subject-
providing context
mixed reality, tracking
   technologies and small
   screen form factors in
   hardware research
information visualization
   techniques in software

"The next generation of user interfaces will likely move somewhat away from the standard object-oriented approach to a user-oriented or task-oriented approach. Instead of using either a verb-noun or noun-verb syntax, such interfaces will to some degree be syntax-free… both action and object are unified into a single input token rather than requiring the composition of a stream of user input."

— Jakob Nielsen