Monday, June 8, 2009

Cell Phone Scientists

And you thought your obsessive relationship with your cell phone just made you a douchebag. Did you know it might also help you do science? Researchers at UCLA have formed the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing to take advantage of all the swanky devices nearly half the world's population carry in their pockets and purses. They reckon that so many GPS-equipped, camera-toting computers over such a vast area can act as a powerful aggregator of statistical data. By downloading special apps for your phone, you can contribute to worldwide knowledge while also understanding a little about yourself. For instance, you could use your phone to track your transportation habits and tell you how much of a carbon footprint you're leaving on the smalls of your grandchildren's backs. The CENS scientists are calling cell phone data gathering "participatory sensing". As opposed, I guess, to non-participatory sensing? Look, they're not in the business of naming things. They just want to know what you're doing and where you're doing it at all times for their sick masturbatory kinks for science! More details here.