Walk to the Moon

Walk to the Moon

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

At any given time, the distance between the Earth and Moon is about 385,000 kilometres. It’s quite the distance. But, could you walk it? Maybe get there at a steady jog? That’s the idea behind Walk to the Moon, a personal walking tracking app and community concept.

The Numbers Behind Walk to the Moon

Before I designed an app for it, I needed to ask “Can someone even walk to the moon?”

As I said earlier, the moon is approximately 385,000km from Earth.

According to Wolfram Alpha, the typical human walking speed is 4 kilometres per hour and life expectancy in the western world hovers at around 80 years.

If we assume that you were unable to walk a reasonable distance until you were 5, that means that if you walked for 3.5 hours per day (doesn’t need to all be in one burst) each and every day, you could possibly reach the moon before you die.

If you run, the numbers are a bit more optimistic. Wikipedia pegs human running speed at about 6 metres per second, or 20 kilometres per hour. That means you could run from Earth to the Moon for about 42 minutes a day. Of course, you can’t run everyday through your life, so the number is likely to be nearer an hour, but it’s still possible.

If you’re pretty active, it is in entirely possible for you to walk, jog or run to the moon in their lifetime.

The App and Community

Walk to the Moon is an application AND a community. The idea is to track your movement during the day using the sensors in your iPhone and/or Apple Watch and map these to the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Your ultimate goal, to make it to the Moon on a solo walk.

Progress view showing 600 metres walking progress
600 metres down. Just 384,999.4 kilometres to go!

Along the way, you’ll unlock space and exploration related achievements and badges. To ease new walkers into the application, and to gradually increase the challenge, badges are spread out in such a way that you will earn more of them at the start and then fewer as time goes on. This helps keep people engaged in the early days of using the application, but means that it becomes less of a distraction as time goes by.

Badge list on left. Walking the length of the space shuttle badge on right.
Walked the length of the Space Shuttle (37 metres), you’ll get a badge. Walked once around the Earth? That’s a badge!

Obviously, the badges will all be different in the final product. Copy and paste is easier when mocking up.

In the famous words of Douglas Adams, “Space is Big”. And for that reason, walking to the Moon is the only reasonable expectation for a single person in their lifetime. But… The power of community can allow us to do amazing things together. So, as well as being a personal tracking app, all distances walked would be anonymously collated and brought into a main walking pool, as the Walk to the Moon community make their way across the Solar System (first to Mars) and then across the universe (if the numbers ever get big enough).

Community view showing progress of the community as it walks to Mars.
I’m not sure walking is how Elon expects us to get to Mars…

In an earlier version of the application design, Walk to the Moon had three main screens. The home screen, as it does now, helped you see how you’re doing towards your goal of working to the moon. To the left of home was the community screen, showing the community’s progress, and to the right of home was the badges screen, where you could see a list of all of your unlocked badges.

To reduce the number of screens, and because your progress and badges are linked, I instead decided to bring the badges into the home screen, so you can always see the last badge you unlocked, and view the rest by just scrolling up. The community screen was also moved to the right of home, as a nod to information direction in Left to Right languages. (If an RTL version was made, I may consider switching these screens for that language, if possible).

Image showing changes from original concept to a more detailed later version
The original concept had a screen to either side of home, denoted by icons.

Bringing it together into an Experience

Here, you can try out my first Walk to the Moon prototype for yourself. Some of the interactions aren’t easy to replicate, for example the badge list scrolling, so below is a video, created in Quartz Composer using Origami, of what this interaction would look like on an actual device.

A GIF showing scrolling of the badge list in action
A GIF of scrolling in action

Walk to the Moon was my first attempt at bringing together an idea, UI and UX into a testable prototype (Circa: April 2015). If you’d like to work with me to develop this project out, or you’d like to buy the idea, get in touch!

Email Sam