Visualizing Location Uncertainty on Mobile Devices: Cross-Cultural Differences in Perceptions and Preferences

Champika Manel Epa Ranasinghe, Jakub Krukar, Christian Kray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Location uncertainty is often ignored but a key context parameter for location-based services. The standard way of visualizing location uncertainty on mobile devices is using a concentric circle. However, the impact of different visual variables (shape, size, boundary, middle dot, color) of this standard visualization on users is not well understood. There is a potential for misinterpretation, particularly across cultures. We ran a study that was previously conducted in Germany (N=32) in Sri Lanka (N=20) to investigate how users perceive different visualizations of location uncertainty on mobile devices. In particular, we investigated the impact of the four graphic dimensions, shape, boundary, middle dot and size. We identified consistencies and inconsistencies concerning perceptions of users regarding visualizations of location uncertainty across cultures. We also quantified the impact of different visualizations on the perception of users. Based on the consistencies between different visualizations and between the two cultures, we derived guidelines for visualizing location uncertainty that help developers in aligning location uncertainty with the perceptions of users. We also highlight the need for further research on cultural differences (and similarities) regarding how visualizations of location uncertainty impact the perceptions of users.
Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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