The MIT Media Lab has been using smartphones to collect data on people’s habits and opinions for research projects for several years. The group is now releasing their smartphone data collection and visualization system as a free open-source download for anyone interested. The software called Funf has both an Android-based phone component that exposes sensor data and data collection parameters, and a desktop tool for managing and visualizing the data.
The software provides an interface that lets users specify the time and frequency that a sensor or collection of sensors will collect data. Because raw data can be difficult to interpret, there are also tools to make sense and determine patters from the data.
Increasingly, individuals have an interest in self tracking their own behaviors and interactions, and groups of like-minded individuals might also band together for innovative tracking experiments.
By making the software open source, MIT gains bright minds that might extend the software in new directions to track new parameters and add visualization and analysis tools. The move also ensures that the work will live on and attract more users as there are competing research efforts out there.
Here’s a short YouTube video with heat maps that show the location of two people tracked using the software. The size of the heatmap shows the range of the individual, and the redder colors indicate longer duration in the same space.
See more in this MIT press release.