On the waterfront

A new ‘tracking’ system is being developed to capture the feelings of volunteers who regularly walk, run or cycle along Worcester’s riverfront.


A new ‘tracking’ system capable of measuring a person’s real-time emotions is being developed to capture the feelings of volunteers who regularly walk, run or cycle along Worcester’s riverfront.


Worcester University’s Digital Arts Centre senior lecturer, Andy Stevenson, has been working with Worcester City Council’s landscape architects to create new ways of assessing people’s views and opinions of the riverside, from Worcester Cathedral through to the Diglis Docks.


Using a combination of technology including a satellite tracking bracelet, a radio-linked heart rate monitor and recorded commentaries, Stevenson has created a prototype multimedia ‘Emoti-map’ of the area for the council’s website. The map also uses a range of photographs, verbal comments and colours from bright red for ill-feeling and unease, to relaxed greens and lavender colours to indicate a positive experience.


The website, which can be seen at www.worcester.gov.uk highlights a person’s feelings and comments along each stage of their journey.


The aim behind the project is to help shape the council’s current and future riverside regeneration proposals under its Waterfront Project. This will include a new footbridge over the River Severn connecting Diglis to Lower Wick, following a successful National Lottery funding bid.


The data collected by Stevenson, which included tracking the feelings and opinions of cyclists, walkers and young children has been presented to Worcester City Council staff and will be on public display at a Waterfront Project exhibition during January 2008.


‘This technology is still at an early stage, but it’s a new and unique way to map out a person’s feelings and then present these in an experimental multi-media setting. The heart rate monitor is a good way to discover generic reactions on a person’s journey and we’re aiming to build on and refine these methods and outputs for similar future projects. We think one of the improvements we’ll look into will be the use of a miniature video camera attached to our participants for real-time audio and visual feedback. We may also look into monitoring participants’ breathing patterns in the future as another way of cross checking our returned results,’ said Stevenson.


To discover more about the thoughts and feelings of the Riverfront’s scheme’s participants, and to add your own feedback and views, visit http://www.worcester.gov.uk:8080/emotimaps