It was Saturday morning and we were standing in a churchyard among memorial stones. The Armenian Church, Singapore’s oldest church, is one of the hotspots on LocoMole’s Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Central Civic District Trail. Using the app, we were glad to find out that no one is buried under the memorial tombstones.
This was part of the activities held to mark the launch of the LocoMole discovery and storytelling platform on 14 January 2017. Created by LDR Technology Pte Ltd and using location-based technology, users can learn about places in Singapore through the 12 walking trails. Each trail has been adopted by a different charity under the Exploring Singapore for a Cause initiative.
Besides Make-a-Wish Foundation, other supported charities include the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, Caritas Singapore, Malay Heritage Foundation, Cornerstone Community Service and South Central Community FSC. Trails cover locations such as Kampong Glam, Pulau Ubin and the Civic District.
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The free LocoMole app can be downloaded from both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Once installed, you will need to download the content for the individual trail you are interested in.
For each individual trail, a map shows the locations or “hotspots” you can visit. Once physically at the location, more information “pops up” within the app. This includes an introduction to the place and its history. It also provides a list of recommended activities and “challenges” to complete.
And that’s how we ended up at the Armenian Church’s churchyard among the memorial stones, trying to complete a challenge.
Trails can be found in different categories. If you select a trail from the Charity category, you can also find out how to support the charity associated with the trail. This could be by pledging a donation or support in kind.
What We Liked
Strong, Well-written Content
The app provides interesting, well-researched local information about each place. Sub-sections like “Traveller’s Tips” and “Did You Know?” provide succinct and useful information for explorers.
Challenges that Involve Exploring the Location
A good example of this type of challenge is the one at Armenian Church where users had to find out which year Agnes Joaquim was born. This challenge sent participants scurrying around the memorial stones to look for the needed information.
Unfortunately, most challenges involve taking photos or playing a simple game. These do not exploit the full potential of having a person present at a location.
What We Thought Could Be Improved
The User Interface
Firstly, it was strange to have to download a trail to the device every time you want to explore a new location. It reminded us of the “old days” when there was no such thing as mobile Internet and we had to download content for offline use on to a PDA. (Oops, we are showing our age).
Furthermore, there seemed to be too many menus and layers to navigate. And why does it keep prompting “Turn On Bluetooth to Allow “LocoMole” to Connect to Accessories”. If we want to turn on Bluetooth for the app, we will. But just because we didn’t, is there really a need to nag us in retribution?
“Location” Should be Leveraged More
We also felt that the app could make better use of location information. For example, after visiting a “hotspot”, it is left to the user to choose the next hotspot to visit. This is a manual process and the user ends up picking spots to visit rather than following a trail. Instead, the app could automatically provide directions to the next location along the trail.
Overall, we liked the aim of the Exploring Singapore for a Cause walking trails but feel that the LocoMole app could be refined further.