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I worked on an image recognition tablet app last year where there were real symbols placed around a historic attraction. Users were required to explore this attraction and 'scan' the symbols using the camera in a tablet app.

Due to technical constraints, the users had to be a specific distance from the symbols for them to be recognised by the app, and hold the tablet still.

We included an on-boarding process to help them with this, which went as follows:

  1. Ensure that the user is positioned in front of a 'tutorial' symbol when they first start the 'experience'.
  2. Explain that the experience involves searching the attraction for symbols, which they must scan with their tablet.
  3. Display the camera screen, with tutorial text (and audio) which reads as follows:
    • "Look at the symbol in front of you."
    • "Hold your tablet up to the symbol."
    • "Now position the symbol in the frame on your screen to scan it."
  4. Also on the camera screen is a semi-transparent frame, pictured below, which shows the frame in which the user must position the symbol.
    • It uses four corners as the frame.
    • Anything outside the frame is made darker to accentuate the inside of the frame.

Framing in image recognition app

In practice it worked, but it wasn't as intuitive to users as I would have hoped.

The question: Is image recognition such as this inherently unintuitive, or is there something we could have done differently (within our technical constraints)?

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