Gaming Apps can Provide Big Data for Researchers

By: Gizbot Bureau

Washington, Dec 25 (IANS) Mobile-based games that are actually tests of cognition or other brain functions can offer researchers an exciting new means to gather inexpensive big data, say researchers.

A fast-paced game app where players pretend they are baggage screening officers operating airport x-ray scanners can provide researchers with billions of pieces of data in record time, they added.

Gaming Apps can Provide Big Data for Researchers

"Questions that could have taken decades to answer in a laboratory setting or that could not be realistically answered in a lab can be examined using big data gathered in a relatively short time," added lead author Stephen R. Mitroff from Duke University.

To demonstrate the potential of mobile technology to gather data, the researchers partnered with Kedlin Co, the developer of the popular mobile app game Airport Scanner.

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The game challenges players to identify illegal items in luggage passing through an airport x-ray scanner.

Between January 2013 and November 2014, the game provided anonymous data from more than two billion trials from over seven million mobile devices.

"In 1998, one million trials were analysed by Jeremy M Wolfe, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, to understand visual search. This was a mind-blowing amount of data that took 10 years to collect. Today, we can collect over a million trials a day through Airport Scanner," Mitroff explained.

Mobile technology, thus, offers a phenomenal opportunity to examine cognitive processes on a large scale, he concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

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