Let art guide your next walking excursion

trace app
My latest blog for STEAM Register…

Tired of the same old routine when it comes to your daily walk? A new mapping app created by University of Washington researchers turns art into a sharable walking route guaranteed to brighten your day and get you into places you may have never known existed.

The free app, called Trace, turns a digital sketch that you draw on your smartphone screen into a walking route that you can send to a friend or loved one, or that you can enjoy on your next personal workout. You can also include audio recordings, images, inside jokes or other messages that pop up at specified locations along the route to give the recipient hints, according to the researchers.

The free app, available from Google and iTunes, was designed to “explore how GIS mapping technology shapes how we experience the simple act of walking. Trace aims to encourage communication and reflection, rather than focusing on competition or efficiency.”

“For some people it was a delight to find that slowing down allowed them to meet new people or see familiar sites in their neighborhood in new ways, but at the same time giving up that control was a stress for other folks who had a routine,” said project lead Daniela Rosner, assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering and co-director of the UW’s TAT Lab.

While activity tracking apps help people reach exercise goals, and routing apps help send people on the most efficient route, Trace actually forces you to give up all control and go where the app directs you. It might even help you experience sides to your city you weren’t even aware of.

“Our goal for this research wasn’t necessarily to produce the next new app for walking, though we hope people will use and enjoy it,” Rosner said of the Intel-funded project. “It was to use the tool to start asking questions about what we expect from our GIS routing tools and about the role that technology can play in our walks.”

One thing to remember, however. Don’t forget to look up from your phone from time to time.

Continue reading to find out more.

Learn more about the Trace app here.

This post can also be found at steamregister.com.


One thought on “Let art guide your next walking excursion

  1. What an interesting idea! I use Endomondo for my walks/runs but that only maps where I go…it would be kinda cool to follow an app’s route! Thanks for sharing…


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