About That Using-technology-to-get-people-outdoors Trend

Illustration by Andy Patton. "Using technology to bring people outdoors"

Are you self-conscious when outside with your head down looking at your phone? I used to be. But today, maybe we shouldn't be.  

Those Awkward Phone Years

We went through an awkward time when our love affair with our phones was growing exponentially, but for some reason, it felt wrong to be doing it outside. I used to question myself in an insecure way,

  • "Is everybody looking at me?"
  • “Am I being completely anti-social because I'm outdoors staring down at my phone?"
  • “How can I make myself look like I'm doing something really important, versus catching up on my Facebook feed?"

Things have changed a lot in the past few years and we're getting comfortable with this all-to-common anti-social heads-down look. Today it's not such a big deal because everyone else is doing the same.  Not that its necessarily a good thing, but we’re a lot less self-conscious or judgmental of others with their noses buried in their smartphone.

There’s a Whole New Smartphone World Out There

Let's go even further to use our phones to get us outside. Even our phones today can hold us accountable for spending time outdoors. We should feel guilty if we don't get outside to use our phone. Alright, let's not get carried away, let's find a balance. 

Enter the world of interactive experiences to help get people outdoors and into nature. The most recent explosion of Pokémon Go comes to mind. Let's appreciate for a moment (remember, no judging) how it drew people to get off their couches and not just get outside, but physically active. That’s an awesome thing! Albeit, the downside is we’re all still staring at a screen the whole time.

Next Evolution = “using-technology-to-get-people-outdoors-trend”

Have you seen Discovery Agents developed by some creative folks north of the border? It's a really cool app playing off the “use-technology-to-get-people-outdoors-trend,” and also gets people to look up and engage with nature. Rather than staring at a screen and fighting a mob to bag an oh-so-rare Squirtle, how about using our phones to solve challenges that can only be accomplished outdoors while engaged with our surroundings? Think about how crazy that would have sounded five years ago.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your phone and get out there!

Erik Spring Associate Landscape Architect