ST Abbs' Explorer

Explorer is a digital compass that guides visitors while exploring St Abbs Natural Reserve. This was a group project where the university partnered with the National Trust of Scotland (NTS). The charity’s aim for this project was to understand how data and technology, associated with a design process, could help them gain more visibility, and know better their supporters.


Our project was focused in wildlife preservation in St Abbs. During our initial onsite visit, we met with the Park Ranger Liza that gave us an overview of the day-to-day activities in the park. They are quite shot on staff, as unlike other NTS locations, they cannot charge for entrance due to the right to the Scottish right to roam.

Due to the contrast between the number of visitors in the summer and the rest of the year, a lot of damage is made to property grounds in only one season. As such, they cannot advertise the area in an attempt to control the influx of people. Liza wishes visitors could see St Abbs as a year-round experience, rather than a summer attraction. She also misses hosting tours as people used to gather a better knowledge of the park, and the efforts involved to preserve it.


As we could not display or place artefacts in the park, we decided to make a portable artefact that connects to geotags around the park. Nevertheless, we did not want to remove the user’s attention from the views, so both artefact and interface needed to be minimal. In that sense, the object would only display the navigational pointer, and whenever a geotag was reached, it would pair with the phone to display further information about the area. At the same time, it needed to allow the user to roam hands-free, hence the decision to place cord, so it could be attached to a backpack, or worn around the neck.

final product

The setup is easy, as users only need to insert some non-identifiable personal data and provide their expectations about what they wish to see in their visit to the park. After the setup, a personalised route is defined, and a route is provided. The data collected from the device allows the park to understand more about their visitors and the most popular routes, so they can respond and maintain the area appropriately. Nevertheless, as this data is non-identifiable and stored in a non-personal device, there are no risks of privacy.

St Abbs' Explorer

May 2018

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