An innovative mobile electronic tourist guide application

Mobile tourism represents a relatively new trend in the field of tourism and involves the use of mobile devices as electronic tourist guides. While much of the underlying technology is already available, there are still open challenges with respect to design, usability, portability, functionality and implementation aspects. Most existing ‘‘mobile tourism’’ solutions either represent of-theshelf applications with rigidly defined content or involve portable devices with networking capabilities that access tourist content with the requirement of constant airtime, i.e., continuous wireless network coverage. This paper presents the design and implementation issues of a ‘‘mobile tourism’’ research prototype, which brings together the main assets of the two aforementioned approaches. Namely, it enables the creation of portable tourist applications with rich content that matches user preferences. The users may download these personalized applications (optimized for their specific device’s model) either directly to their mobile device or first to a PC and then to a mobile terminal (through infrared or bluetooth). Thereafter, network coverage is not further required as the applications execute in standalone mode and may be updated when the user returns online. The dynamically created tourist applications also incorporate a ‘‘push model’’, wherein new tourist content is forwarded to the mobile terminal with minimal user intervention as soon as it is added or updated by the administrator. Our prototype has been developed on the top of Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) which offers an ideal platform for the development of full-fledged, interactive and portable applications tailored for resourceconstrained mobile devices. The paper presents our development experiences with J2ME and highlights its main advantages and shortcomings in relation to the implementation of such kind of applications. Finally, an empirical evaluation of user experience with the mobile application prototype is presented.

The vision of nomadic users having seamless, worldwide access to a range of tourist services is expected to become a reality within only a few years from now. Hence, the concept of mobile tourism has recently emerged wherein users access tourist content through mobile devices. Mobile devices present many unique characteristics that make their use as electronic tourist guides particularly attractive, such as ubiquity and convenience; positioning: by employing technologies like GPS, users may receive and access information and services specific to their location ; personalization: unlike PCs, handheld devices are typically operated by a single user, thereby enabling the provision of personalized services by wireless web portal

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