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Using Mobile Sensing to Understand Behaviors and Environments

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People around the world own digital media devices (e.g., smartphones, wearables) that mediate and are in close proximity to their daily behaviours and environments. At the MAP Lab, we harness these devices  as sensing technologies to collect information from sensors and metadata logs and obtain fine–grained records of human behavior and contexts. Our research on mobile sensing focuses on the possibility of converting basic sensor and metadata (e.g., accelerometer, microphone, GPS readings, app use logs) into broader psychologically interesting behavioral (e.g., daily activities, social interactions, mobility patterns) and contextual information (e.g., places visited, ambient noise). In doing so, mobile sensing allows us to measure objective information about behaviors and the surrounding environment in which they occur, objectively, with great fidelity, over long periods of time, in a way that is both unobtrusive and ecologically valid. However, the assessment of real-world behaviors and environments presents a number of practical, methodological, and ethical challenges.

Below are representative publications on this topic: