Anyone who has ever been to the zoo knows how important maps of the area are. Without them it is almost impossible to find your way around the huge areas. Where are the penguins? Where are the tigers? Where does the round-trip lead along? All of this is currently represented with paper maps and signs. But why not use a device that we always carry with us anyway? Finally, smartphones could also be a new way of making visits easier in zoos.
Research with the European Space Agency
As part of a research project with the ESA (European Space Agency), we analyzed which features can digitally support and expand the zoo experience. For example, we have developed a multi-stop function that allows a guided tour to defined destinations – depending on the interests of the visitors. We have also integrated the new European Galileo satellite system into the positioning algorithms to enable smooth route guidance. Another plus: the Galileo-based location determination can now also trigger audio information about animals – precisely when a visitor approaches the respective enclosure.
Tests with users on site
At the end of the project, we tested the new functions of the app together with employees and regular visitors in two of the most popular zoos in Germany. The results were extremely gratifying! Here is an excerpt of the central data:
- 92% of the test persons easily used the digital map and calculated suitable routes.
- 84% found the positional accuracy to be ideal for orientation, even in areas covered by trees (user-estimated accuracy: 0.5-5 m).
- 88% were able to find optimal routes to certain animals in the zoo thanks to the navigation function in the app.
- 96% praised the fact that the appropriate audio guides are always played automatically in close proximity to the animals.
- 76% would use the app as a supplement to the paper map and would prefer to use the app instead of asking employees.
- 96% considered the app to be intuitive to use and the user interface to be clear.
Conclusion: navigation apps actually help visitors. Thanks to them, the zoo experience can be made what it should be: a relaxing day with family or friends.