Eighty-eight percent of Americans now own a cell phone, forming a massive network that offers scientists a wealth of information and an infinite number of new applications. With the help of these phone users — and their devices’ cameras, audio recorders, and other features — researchers envision endless possibilities for gathering huge amounts of data, from services that collect user data to monitor noise pollution and air quality to applications that build maps from people’s cell phone snapshots.
Researchers can’t force mobile users to behave in a certain way, but researchers at Northwestern University have found that they may be able to nudge users in the right direction by using incentives that are already part of their regular mobile routine.
“We can rely on good luck to get the data that we need, or we can ‘soft control’ users with gaming or social network incentives to drive them where we want them,” Bustamante said.
In the paper, “Crowd Soft Control: Moving beyond the Opportunistic,” Bustamante and his group designed a way to “soft control” people’s movements by tapping into games or social networking applications....Continue ReadingLeave a Comment