37th Conference on Education-and-Research-in-Computer-Aided-Architectural-Design-in-Europe (eCAADe) / 23rd Conference of the Iberoamerican-Society-Digital-Graphics (SIGraDi), Porto, Portugal, 11 - 13 September 2019, pp.649-658
Smartphones have become an ordinary accompanier of our walks and created new modes of appropriation of public space. This study aims to research these modes by observing the altering visual attention and walking behavior of people using smartphones in public space, and in this way, to reveal the emergence of different types of post-flaneurs. In order to address these aims, 346 (195 females, 151 males) smartphone users were observed in a central public square in Ghent, Belgium for seven days in 10-minute time intervals. Each person's gender, age, number of accompanies and their dominant mode of smartphone usage(s) were identified. Afterward, each person's walking timeline was organized into seconds and coded according to their focus of visual attention in 24 different modes which grouped under the three gaze types; visual attention on the environment, on the environment through the smartphone screen, and on the smartphone screen. Results of the descriptive statistics, multivariate graph, and rhythm-based in-depth analysis show that different types of smartphone activities affect visual attention and speed differently. Different types of postflaneurs such as navigators and photo takers were identified based upon their high percentage of visual attention on the environment and slower walking speed. The study also revealed the frequent presence of phone-walkers (who walk while only holding the smartphone) and smartphone zombies (who walk slowly and without attention to their surrounding) in public space. In addition to these, our research revealed rapid smartphone zombies who walk faster than the average walking speed, a finding contrary to the former studies reviewed.