Spatial Memories


Spatial Memories was a collaboration between EDINA, Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh) and Artlink Central, Stirling in the production of an App enabling people with disabilities to become more independent and less reliant on others in making spatially aware reminders, hints and checklists using a personalised interface.

The project team developed a proof of concept smartphone App that will allow individual learners to record oral instructions, make text and audio notes, capture images, and associate these with locations, routes and activities. The personalisation of the App will be accomplished through a web based authoring framework which will support the creation of bespoke maps and a customized App interface.

The development process involved the active collaboration of end users, designers, artists and engineers. The project took its direction from collaborative design events involving Artlink Central, a leading agency in participatory arts, staff undertaking creative research in art and technology at the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art, and a group of creative participants from the Abrupt Encounters project. Iterations of the App were developed during a number of participatory design sessions at the Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and its surroundings and the wider city of Stirling, through participants creating a number of ‘spatial memories’ and providing immediate feedback on improvements to software engineers working in situ. Key to this process was the active participation and immediacy of interaction between users and engineers affording the ability to make iterative changes to the app.

The web-based authoring tool allows anyone with minimal technical knowledge to adapt and customize the App to meet the needs of an individual. The App interface design themes (layout, colour schemes) and interaction mechanisms (touch vs. voice) and map content (de-cluttering symbols and colours) can all be changed. The aim was to improve the user’s confidence in different working and learning environments and assist them to live more independently.

Spatial Memories was one of eight projects to be awarded funding as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) programme, and is part of the ‘Good to go’ competition managed by Jisc TechDis, a leading UK advisory service on technologies for inclusion. ‘Good to Go’ was about increasing independence in unfamiliar or challenging environments by giving people easy access to the information they need when they need it.

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Photography by Emma Bowen