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Mobile capture of remote points of interest using line of sight modelling

Publication Date
  • Computer Science
  • Design


Recording points of interest using GPS whilst working in the field is an established technique in geographical fieldwork, where the user’s current position is used as the spatial reference to be captured; this is known as geo-tagging. We outline the development and evaluation of a smartphone application called Zapp that enables geo-tagging of any distant point on the visible landscape. The ability of users to log or retrieve information relating to what they can see, rather than where they are standing, allows them to record observations of points in the broader landscape scene, or to access descriptions of landscape features from any viewpoint. The application uses the compass orientation and tilt of the phone to provide data for a line of sight algorithm that intersects with a Digital Surface Model stored on the mobile device. We describe the development process and design decisions for Zapp present the results of a controlled study of the accuracy of the application, and report on the use of Zapp for a student field exercise. The studies indicate the feasibility of the approach, but also how the appropriate use of such techniques will be constrained by current levels of precision in mobile sensor technology. The broader implications for interactive query of the distant landscape and for remote data logging are discussed.

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