Wearing a Virtual World of Controlling the Movement of People in the Real World

Currently, user data provides some opportunities: for example, researchers may use Flickr to compile a portrait of a 3-dimensional representation of various fields. Yet even this possibility has limitations, since the researchers limited to only use portraits that selected people to download and share. This creates an imbalance that means: several geographic areas and the creation of thousands of land has a portrait Flickr, others none.

 "Take the example of Lincoln Memorial," said Fabian Bustamante, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering. "Flickr has creation of thousands of portraits from the front of the Lincoln Memorial. But who would take the back? So little."

 This led researchers to ask: How to make mobile phone users break this pattern, visit fewer places, and collect the data we need?

 Researchers can not force mobile users to behave in certain ways, but researchers from Northwestern University have found that they may be able to point them in the right direction taking incentives have been provided in the program their phones.

 "We can rely on luck to get the data we need," Bustamante said, "or we can control users with games or social network incentives to drive them where we want."

In a paper titled, "Crowd (Soft) Control: Moving beyond the Opportunistic," Bustamante and his group devised a way to control the movement of people to put it into gaming or social networking applications. For example, a game can offer extra points if a player visiting a particular location in the real world, or it can send a player to a particular location in a virtual hunt.

To test crowd control, the researchers created Android games, including one called Ghost Hunter in which a player chasing ghosts around his home and arrested through teraugmentasi reality display on his phone. In actuality, the movement of the player taking a portrait catcher locations where ghosts belonged.

 Unlike the usual teraugmentasi reality game, where ghosts might be placed randomly, in Ghost Hunter the researchers were able to manipulate where the ghosts should be placed; while some placed in areas frequented, the others are in the outer area, an area that is rarely photographed.

 This game was tested on Northwestern students, who were only told that they were testing a new game. They were not told whether ghosts randomly placed or laid by the research objectives.

"We want to know if we can bring the players off the track to get a goal Ghost Hunter game," Bustamante said. "Every time they catch a ghost, they take a portrait of the Northwestern campus. We wanted to see if we can gain a greater variety of portraits by controlling the movement of the players. "

 The participants were willing to walk out of their regular paths to capture the ghosts, the researchers said. For example, the researchers were able to collect a portrait of Charles Deering Library Northwestern from different angles and directions - data ranges much wider than a random sample obtained at Flickr, where a portrait is generally only captures the front of the library.

 "Playing the game looks a pretty good way to direct people to these places," said John P. Rula, a McCormick graduate student and lead author of this paper.

 When this technology is implemented on a larger scale, the user should be notified that the data collected for research purposes, Bustamante said.

 "Obviously the data users need to know where they go," he said, "and we protect the privacy of users."

 This paper was presented in February 2012 in the Thirteenth Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile).