Monday, December 6, 2010

‘Ethics, logs & videotape' workshop at CHI 2011

App stores have made distribution of research apps to thousands of users incredibly easy. There is more user-generated content around than we can manage to analyze; Millions of tweets, public status updates and shared locations are waiting for us. These are huge opportunities, but researchers now also run into some interesting ethical questions.

Procedures, regulations and ethics - especially in an international and intercultural setting - are unclear and the notion of informed consent is changing. Can we just use all data that is out there? Is someone's tweet intended to be quoted in a research paper? How do we deal with permissions if we use data from users of freely available applications? Do we need to tell people about all our research plans? Is anyone downloading our app a participant?

Asking a million users for a signed consent form is not a feasible option. Notices and messages in apps telling people about our research plans will probably be skipped. If they are read, there is no guarantee they are actually understood. Sometimes researchers cannot even know who the people providing content for their studies are.

Not studies would be missing a huge opportunity, but a discussion is in order. Do we have added responsibilities if we log people’s actions? Can we always be sure there will be no adverse effects for our unwitting ‘participants’?

Join us for a discussion at the CHI2011 workshop we're co-organizing in Vancouver, Saturday May 7th: ETHICS, LOGS, and VIDEOTAPE: Ethics in Large Scale User Trials and User Generated Content.

Position papers due January 14, 2011.
Co-organised by Donald McMillan, Alistair Morrison, Matthew Chalmers (Univ. Glasgow), Henriette Cramer, Mattias Rost (Mobile Life), Wendy Mackay (Univ. Paris Sud) and Adam Greenfield.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Using Foursquare or Gowalla?

Location is big! Research studies on location-sharing are numerous, but it's only now that services are actually reaching the market in a big way. Check-in services such as Foursquare and Gowalla are getting a lot of attention, but how are they actually used?

As a part of our studies on location-sharing, we're running a survey on when people check-in on Foursquare and Gowalla. We'd like to know more about the places you share, the people you share with, how you feel about checking in and the experiences (both good and bad) that you've had.

Using Gowalla or Foursquare? Feel like helping us out?
The survey will take you about 15-20 minutes and will help us better understand how and why people check-in - and there might be an Amazon voucher in it for you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Most Wanted at Ung08

The Portrait Catalog is a mobile phone app that lets you share a picture of yourself with your friends. The twist is that you can only get a picture directly from another person via Bluetooth, so to collect pictures you have to meet people in real life! We will be giving away the Portrait Catalog at the Ung 08 festival, a 5-day event for youths between 13 and 19 organized by the City of Stockholm as part of the Most Wanted activity. Users will also have a chance to get their personal photo taken, and share this through Facebook and become the festival's Most Wanted. To encourage the use of the app we are giving away Sony Ericsson Xperia phones as the prize for the coolest photo and for the best networker - the person who has shared the most photos during the festival! You can find us at Kungsträdgården in Stockholm during August 8 to 14.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Looking for people who like to try out our new foursquare apps

For a current research project in the area of location based services we are looking for a group of foursquare users (e.g. friends or colleagues), who are regularly checking-in at one venue in the Stockholm area.
We would like to do a user study with two new check-in applications for foursquare. We will let you try out this application for 7-10 days each and talk with you in short interviews (face-to-face or via telephone or Skype) about your experiences using foursquare in general and our apps.

If you want to try out our new applications and give feedback to us, just send an email to Sebastian@mobilelifecentre. or tweet via @seb_bue and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

If you know other people who are interested in participating, feel free to forward this information.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Age of the Mobile Mash-Up

Lars Erik Holmquist has a guest post at CrunchGear (also featured on TechCrunch) about the past, present and future of mobile and ubiquitous computing. It relates ubicomp research - including many FAL projects - to the possibilities that have opened up with new infrastructures, and argues that the rate of innovation in mobile services is about to take a quantum leap. Follow the link to read the whole article:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Foursquare + Spotify = Spotisquare!

Mobile 2.0 just released Spotisquare - a mobile web app that connects music to places!

Some places just remind us of a specific song, sometimes we feel places could use a little music. The idea is to have people share what music fits a place and the people that go there. Beats to navigate the city centre, some nice ambient to go with that scenic view? Or maybe you want to share that awesome band you saw at that one club? Life needs a beat. By making collaborative playlists anyone can express their experience of a place using music.

Spotisquare connects Foursquare venues with Spotify playlists. It is a mobile web app that adds music to places. Point your mobile browser to You can just use Spotisquare to check-in on Foursquare, but it also connects Foursquare venues with Spotify playlists. When you find a venue that has a Spotify playlist, you can listen to it in Spotify, and also add your own songs to it. You can add a playlist to a venue with our connector.

Monday, May 24, 2010

φ² scanner for 4sq released!

Mobile 2.0's excellent intern Sebastian Büttner just released φ² Scanner, an Android app to check-in using barcode stickers to foursquare.

Mobile 2.0's φ² project explores different ways of physical check-ins for location-based services and the connection between ‘the visible and virtual’. This is all part of Mobile 2.0's bigger location-based services project, which involves both user studies on people's usage of existing services (Foursquare, Gowalla, Latitude, Brightkite, etc), and development of new concepts for location-based services (such as making hidden services visible at physical locations).

Download the first φ² app & generate your own barcodes at

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Research in the large!

We’re organising a workshop on Research in the Large: using app stores, markets and other wide distribution channels in research at UbiComp2010, Sept 26th in Copenhagen, (with an associated special issue for IJMHCI).

Distribution of mobile applications has been greatly simplified by mobile app stores and markets. Both lone developers and large research and development teams can now relatively easily reach wide audiences. This provides a huge opportunity for both iterative development and gathering research data. However, an overview of successful strategies and ways to overcome the challenges inherent to wide deployment in a research context is not yet available. How do we need to adapt evaluation and research methods? How do we address validity & ethical concerns when doing research on such a large scale? As researchers from both industry and academia we need to share our experiences so we can make the most of this opportunity.

Henriette Cramer, Mattias Rost and Nicolas Belloni (FAL/Mobile 2.0), together with Frank Bentley (Motorola) and Didier Chincholle (Ericsson) are organising a workshop at UbiComp2010 to do exactly that. Go check out the workshop call, send us your position paper and/or contribute to the associated special issue of the International Journal of Mobile HCI. More info at

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Intern: Sebastian Büttner

Since two weeks Sebastian Büttner is working with us in the Mobile 2.0 group. Sebastian is a student of the German Darmstadt University of Technology. He will work on his 'diploma thesis' at FAL & Mobile Life Centre until the end of September. He will be focusing on new concepts for location-based services, in particular by integrating objects, tagged with barcodes or RFIDs into location based services to improve those and make them easier to use.
We're all quite excited to see what he'll come up with - physical check-ins, revolutionary integration of the 'real and virtual'? We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Portrait Catalog on video

In the following video Mattias Rost is presenting and demoing a mobile application called Portrait Catalog. Portrait Catalog is an application for sharing and collecting portrait photos of friends. The portraits are sent over Bluetooth from one person to the other, but portraits cannot be forwarded once received. The application is inspired by the act of sharing portrait photos in elementary school, where youngsters eagerly exchange their portrait picture with their friends when the photos arrive. The application was developed during an internship at Sony Ericsson in the early summer of 2008.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We will be at CHI 2010 in Atlanta

Henriette, Mattias, Lars Erik and I will be in Atlanta in April for the CHI conference. We got a workshop submission at the "Designing and Evaluating Affective Aspects of Sociable Media to Support Social Connectedness" workshop. The abstract is here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Location-based services study – We need you!

For a research project at the Mobile Life Centre we’re looking for users of mobile applications that focus on your location such as foursquare, gowalla, brightkite, Google latitude, loopt or glympse for short interviews.

Are you using an application like that? We want to talk to you about your experiences! We are interested in all types of use and both people who just occasionally use mobile services and people who use them all the time, so don’t worry about being ‘exactly the type of user we’re looking for’.

An interview would take about 15 – 30 minutes. We would either meet up face-to-face in Stockholm or Amsterdam, or talk via video chat (e.g. Skype). We would like to conduct the interviews between 21 Jan and 10 Feb, but you of course get to set the time and place.

I (Henriette) will be conducting the interviews. We’ve included a short description of Mobile Life below, please check out if you want to know more about our work.

Comment on this post, or send me an email at henriette (at) or tweet via @hsmcramer and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you know other people who would be interested in participating, feel free to forward this message.

Thanks from me, Henriette Cramer and Mattias Rost