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Brief Published: 14 Feb 2014

Twitch: Unlocking Data

Extra
Twitch

Twitch is a new app that helps researchers collect crowdsourced data by replacing the ‘unlock’ screen on a smartphone with a quick-fire question or task. Developed by researchers at Stanford University in the US, each task has been specially designed so that it takes no more than a second or two to complete – similar to the time it would take to unlock your phone in the ordinary way.

Recent estimates suggest that the average smartphone user in the US checks their phone more than 150 times each day. The researchers at Stanford aim to pioneer a new kind of fast-paced crowdsourcing that repurposes this spare time.

"We want people to be able to contribute to crowdsourcing in one- to two-second bursts – like when you're waiting for the elevator or waiting for a meeting to start," said Michael Bernstein, an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University.

Developers, brands and even scientists are beginning to realise the potential of apps to crowdsource valuable data. Earlier this month, scientists at research institute Cancer Research UK launched Play to Cure: Genes in Space – a smartphone game in which users highlight genetic faults in real cancer data by driving a spacecraft across a cosmic landscape.  

For more ways to harness the potential of the on-the-go smartphone user, see Quartz: the Next Billion.

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