Second Screen

Second Screen

In the US, smartphone and tablet displays have replaced the TV set as screen number one. Meanwhile, not only the time spent on mobile devices has become longer on mobile than on the tube -primarily the intensity of using mobiles, the attention, people dedicate to mobile content, is higher. Smartphones and tablets have thus become the first screen. Nevertheless, there are plenty of occasions, when a smartphone is out of place, or even annoying: At the table, during a lively conversation, or while driving a car, to name just three obvious examples. My twitter friend Jürgen Geuter has put it in one sentence, why smartwatches will the remedy here: To check the wrist watch is socially accepted. Completely within the common boundaries we may just look on our smartwatch if the awaited reply on Whatsapp has arrived, just as we would have consulted the watch to get the time. Likewise, smartwatches are handy in the sense of the word, when we drive a car, and in combination with speech recognition many smartphone apps will work even better than the hands-free kit. Smartwatches will thus become the second screen, the companion of our smartphones. Also therefore they will find their buyers.

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We are the content!

We are the content!

Since 1967 the Consumer Electronics Show CES in Las Vegas has been the display for the latest products in electronic entertainment. Every first week in Januar the big brands disclose their secret products, that will be stacked on the shelves – or rather: put on the online shops. Until recently, CES was the home match for the classic industry: Hifi, TV sets, car radio, … Even with Apple, Microsoft, and their likes have played an increasingly important role, their focus at this trade show was still also „classic“ home entertainment: Smart TV, home cinema, computer games. TV ist dowdy Also for 2015 the industry had set-up their things. Companies like Samsung would make clear their strategy in advance: Even more fancy TV sets with even more features. But things turned out quite differently. It seamed as if nobody wanted to watch the TV screens on this year’s CES. Classic home electronics appeared like a relict from the 70s. If not before, it became clear at CES 2015, that TV is no longer the „first screen“. Three Trends at CES2015 Three trends dominated the visitors‘ interest and the media coverage of this year’s CES: First: Connected home, in particular smoke detectors, […]

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There is no privacy in mobile

There is no privacy in mobile

Our phones register in radio cells to route the calls to the phone network. When we move around, we occasionally leave one cell and enter another. So our movements over leave a trace through the cells we have been passing the course of the day. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye and his co-authors from MIT explored, how many observations we need, to identify a specific user. Based on actual data provided by telephone companies, they calculated, that just four observations are sufficient to identify 95% of all mobile users. We need just so little evidence because people’s moving patterns are surprisingly unique, just like our fingerprints, these are more or less reliable identifiers. Location When we analyze the raw data, that we collect through our mobile sensor framework ‚explore‘ we found several other fingerprint-like traces, that all of us continuously drop by using our smartphones. Obviously we can reproduce de Monjoye’s experiment with much more granular resolution when we use the phone’s own location tracking data instead of the rather coarse grid of the cells. GPS and mobile positioning spot us with high precision. Wifi Inside buildings we have the Wifis in reception. Each Wifi has a unique identifier, the BSSID and […]

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Access Smartphone Data With our new API

Access Smartphone Data With our new API

Datarella now provides an API for our app ‚explore‘, that allows every user to access the data collected and stored by the app. An Application Programming Interface, in short API, is an interface for accessing software or databases externally. Web-APIs giving us access via the internet, have become the principle condition for most businesses in the web. Whenever we pay something online with our credit card, the shop system accesses our account via the API of the card issuing company. Ebay, Amazon, PayPal -they all provide us with their APIs to automatize their whole functionality to be included in our own website’s services. Most social networks offer APIs, too. Through these we can post automatic messages, analyze data about usage and reach, or control ad campaigns. The ‚explore‘ app was developed by Datarella to access the smartphones internal sensors (or probes), and to store the data. It is however not just about standard data like location, widely known because of Google Maps. ‚explore‘ reads all movements in three dimensions via the gyroscope, accelleration, magnetic fields in the environment. Mobile network providers and Wifis in reception are also tracked. From these data we can learn many interesting things about ourself, our […]

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Crowdsourced environmental monitoring

Many parameters a smartphone accidentially measures are useful in monitoring the environment. We have recently discussed, how air pollution with particulate dust can be monitored with an easy ad on to the phone’s camera. But there are even more subtle ways by which users can help to research and monitor environmental conditions. Another example is given by A. Overeem et.al. who track urban temperature over time in various metropole regions arround the globe. The approach is as simple as powerful: a regression over the battery temperature (that is measured by every smartphone anyway). The microphone, too, can give valuable data on local environmental conditions for an unlimited mass of individual users that participate. Sound level show noise emmission that can be located in space and time. Noise is regarded as a prime source of stress, but rather little is known about the changes that occur in different microgeographic regions. Apps like Weather Signal use thus a combination of the phone’s sensors to contribute to a richer model for weather conditions. Appart from just passivly deploying the phones as sensor boards themselves, it is of course also possible to collect data from other local sources and just transmit the results via […]

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Tracking Lung Function with the Phone’s Microphone

Asthma is one of the most common chronical conditions. For many who are affected, it would be necessary to monitor their lung functions much more frequently than by visiting their doctor once or twice a year. Spirometers which measure the volume of air taken in and out whith a breath are expensive and even if you’d buy one, you’d still have to carry another device with you. Smartphones are ubiquitous, everybody carries one – this is what makes mHealth so powerful after all. SpiroSmart is an app that makes use just of the most basic function of any phone: the microphone. By exhaling all your lung’s content into the phone’s mike at the distance of your full arm’s lenght, SpiroSmart calculates the breath capacity. The app analyzes the dynamics of the sound, the exhaling makes to fulfill the task of the classic spirometers that do the same with a small fan that gets propelled by the exhaled breath inside a mouthpiece. The error rate lies close to the parameters set up by the American Thoracic Society ATS. SpiroSmart is developed by an interdisciplinary team at the University of Washington in Seatle. Links: „Tracking Lung Function on any Phone“. Poster by […]

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Mapping particulate dust with phones

iSpex is a plastic contraption that can be clipped on top of a smartphone’s camera. In this simple slit spectrograph light is defracted and polarized by shining through birefringent plastic sheets and a polarisation film. iSpex measures how aerosoles – microscopic or nanoscopic particles hovering in the athmosphere – change the polarization of the highly polarized light that shines from an unclowded, blue sky. This change in polarization renders a distinct pattern in the spectrum, that is cast by the iSpex-device into the phone’s camera. By this approach, iSpex can measure how the air is polluted with particulate dust, which is regarded especially unhealthy and has become topic of fierce political discussions, when the EU ordered city governments to regulate and even lock out automotive traffic. Behind iSpex stands a consortium of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy at University of Leiden, Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). Over the course of summer and autumn 2013, thousands of people in the Netherlands participated in „national iSpex days“, jointly measuring particulate dust. The first results of this awesome social effort are published, and we can […]

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Smartphone Geiger Counter

When photons, the particles of light, hit the chip of a smartphone’s camera, they excite electrons on the chip’s surface and change the conductivity or even generate voltage within the small area arround the impact. Gamma rays which are often products of radioactive decay, are also electromagnetic waves, just like light, however much more energetic. That means: as radioactive radiation can expose a chemical photographic film, it can as well effect the camera chip in the smartphone. A team of researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls have used this property to change common smartphones into detectors for radioactive radiation. The radiation is recorded via the camera an an app, which calculates the radiation intensity from the data collected. With this approach we learn again, how versatile mobile devices can be deployed. Up to thirty sensors in each smartphone measrure all kinds of variables like temperature, magnetism, brightness, sound and many more. With a little creativity we can combine these measurements and get valuable data about the environment around the smartphone and its user, that not rarely can replace expensive, specialized methods. Here the link to the original publication: Joshua J. Cogliati, Kurt W. Derr, Jayson Wharton: Using […]

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Chinese version of ‚explore‘ ready for download

Chinese version of ‚explore‘ ready for download

The Chinese version of the ‚explore‘ app is ready for download. And that’s unique: right before the launch of the English version ist the Chinese app the first international version! It can be used for research in China itself or for surveys within the Chinese target group living abroad.  Download explore

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