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Arts Festival App to Include New Feature for 2017

by on July 06, 2017 5:00 AM

Since 2008, a year after the first iPhone was released, the students and faculty of Penn State’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction have contributed mobile computing support to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts with an annual Arts Festival app.

Each version of the Arts Fest app retains core features, such as a schedule and program of events and locations, and profiles of the visiting artists and performers. But each is also an exploration of new features and interaction possibilities, said center director and Distinguished Professor of Information Sciences and Technology Jack Carroll.

The app is available free for iPhones in the Apple Store. The 2017 Arts Festival is July 13-16, with Children and Youth Day on July 12.

Back in 2014 the app was used to play a “selfie” game among Arts Fest attendees, 2015’s application profile-based event recommendation and user-created custom events for the Arts Fest program. Last year, the app investigated connecting attendees and artists by allowing artists to push status and updates about their booths and wares, cross-posted to Twitter using the hashtag #ArtsFestApp. Festival goers could use the app to view and reply to updates, as well as to read up on the artists.

This year the CHCI team is exploring geo-referenced interactions, in collaboration with, a location-based citizen engagement platform. PlaceSpeak was recently used by State College to collect feedback from residents on a potential action sports park for the region.

“We’re not a company, we’re a research group," Carroll said. "We don’t try to do the same thing each year. We try to to do something different. We try to learn something.”

Festival attendees will be able to share their Arts Fest memories as they stand in the places that evoked them and indicate their favorite spots at this year’s Arts Fest while they are enjoying them. The app will organize posts by location, creating an overlay of personal experiences on an interactive map of State College (which can also be accessed through the PlaceSpeak website).

Carroll noted that Arts Fest content is not yet on PlaceSpeak as it will be generated during the festival.

For those who already have the iPhone app, or download it before the new version is deployed, the newest version will push as an update 

"Arts Fest is a huge, happy, ephemeral community," Carroll said. "Our app is a continuing attempt to probe the information needs and possibilities of that community."

The research group responsible for this year’s Arts Festival app project includes Carroll and Professor Ben Hanrahan, and graduate students Emma Zhu, Jiawei Chen, and Jomara Binda.  The project was supported by a grant from the Penn State Institute for Cyberscience, and a Fellowship from the Faculty Academy for Engaged Scholarship.

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