Turning off the lights in Citizen Science - a new "Night mode" for apps & more news
NEW EXTENSIONS FOR NEW APPS TURNING OFF THE LIGHTS IN CITIZEN SCIENCE: THE NEW NIGHT MODE
In some research fields, Citizen Science observations need to be done long after the sun has set. To reduce the blinding effect by the smartphone display in such apps, we have developed a new feature for Citizen Science projects on the SPOTTERON platform: the night mode.
COUNTING STARS FOR CITIZEN SCIENCE
In the new "Stjärnförsöket" (Star-Spotting) project, Citizen Scientists point a cardboard tube in all cardinal directions and count how many stars are visible to the bare eye. By that method, developed by researcher Dr. Urban Eriksson from the department of physics of Lund University in Sweden, it is possible to calculate the level of light pollution at the location and time of the record.
Since smartphones displays have strong back-lighting for their bright color displays, the eye will need to adopt to that brightness when using a Citizen Science app at night for an observation in a dark environment. This can result in wrong assessments, or at least will reduce the usability of such an app since a user will have to wait a period of time until the eyes are used to the dark surroundings again when making observations. To counteract this effect, we have designed a new extension for the SPOTTERON platform feature set, which as always is now ready to be used by all new projects on the platform without additional development costs: the new night mode.
A new map and dark color scheme for night-based Citizen Science
In the night mode, the whole app is using a new color scheme, which offers dark gray backgrounds with fonts and interactive elements in brighter colors. In addition to the interface overhaul, we have designed a custom map layout on our map-server infrastructure, which provides a dark map version for the app. With the new night mode, Citizen Science projects in the area of astronomy, nocturnal animal monitoring or similar have now an optimized interface present, which can highly increase the effectiveness of the Citizen Science app in the field.
Stickers in Citizen Science apps: creative content for unique images
In addition, we have invented an extended application of the already built-in image editor, which offers the possibility to add so called "stickers" to the picture of an observation.
In all Citizen Science apps on the SPOTTERON platform, users can take a picture with their smartphone while adding the data of a new spot in the app. Since photographs at night tend to have low quality, noise and are in general not very useful for identifying details or objects, we have created a unique approach in Citizen Science to let the users have fun while participating in the project and still provide photographs with visual uniqueness for the spots in the app and for social media sharing.
The image editor in the "Stjärnförsöket" app features a set of 36 cool sticker images, which can be placed directly in the photographs of the dark night sky in a way, every smartphone app user is already familiar with from messengers like Signal or WhatsApp and from social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. These stickers greatly improve the visual uniqueness of the spots while adding a new and innovative level of creative interaction in a Citizen Science project.
It is great to see an already existing feature being used creatively in another way, The "stickers" functionality has been contributed by the Citizen Science project "Crowdwater" by the University of Zurich, Switzerland for putting measurement scales in the pictures of streams and rivers to add a reference point system for ongoing water level observations. In Stjärnförsöket, the stickers are now used in a different way as a long-term motivation asset and to create visual diversity in the Citizen Science app.
All apps of the mentioned projects are available here:
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Jump directly to the video clip of the Vienna Ball of Sciences:
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