Researchers Using Smartphone Lock Screen to Crowdsource Scientific Data

twitchYour smartphone’s lock screen could be the next source of scientific data. Imagine, each time you unlock your phone, recording observable data about the world around you. That’s the future of crowdsourcing, according to researchers from Standford. They’ve already developed the app to do so: Twitch.

According to Michael Bernstein, assistant professor at Standford, Twitch allows everyone to help make scientific observations in small increments over time, because, he said, “Many people wish they could help but simply don’t make it a priority.” Using a smarphone lock screen to do so makes it convenient. Twitch replaces the unlock gesture into a simple question like how many people are around, how is everyone dressed, or are they lethargic. In a three week period, researchers were able to query 82 users with 19 tasks every day. Each task too an average of 1.6 seconds, compared to 1.4 seconds of the traditional lock screen.

Currently, the app has few census questions. We hope it proves the utilitarian model has potential, but don’t expect to get varied, entertaining questions. Further, it could use a designer’s touch to improve on graphics, user interface, and experience. To participate, download Twitch from the Android store. Be sure to open the app after downloading to enable the lockscreen features and customization.


Via MIT Technology Review