Innovative mobile activity monitoring technology can actually tell when you’re bored — and it wants to help.
Have you ever spent an hour playing some mediocre smartphone game, or simply lost track of time altogether as you mindlessly scrolled through Facebook or Twitter? According to the MIT Technology Review, this very problem has spurred Spanish researchers to develop an algorithm that can actually tell when you’re bored.
The algorithm tracks a user’s data in order to map their social interactions, time between taps, and topline activity, which allows it to pinpoint the moment boredom sets in with surprising accuracy. But is it worth it?
Once a bored user has been identified, the software swings into action, sending them an interesting article, exercise, or activity suggestion. In theory, this rejuvenating jolt will stir any user from his or her listless stupor.
The researchers’ theory is clear — because boredom has been linked to depression, identifying boredom and attempting to subvert it could arguably be beneficial to a casual user. And although this logical link feels a touch unacademic, if there’s an app out there that’ll help keep us from drooling while we wait for the bus, we’re not complaining.
But the app does raise some privacy concerns. Its use entitles the app developer to unrestricted accesses to a user’s information, and deliberately altering a user’s mood is murky territory at best.
Pioneers in this area should tread lightly — let’s not forget Facebook’s infamous 2012 mood manipulation experiment, when Facebook (successfully) sought to alter its users emotions by manipulating their news feed, without their consent, according to The Atlantic. In short, the public’s response was not very positive.
A Slippery Slope
Of course, any techie worth their salt can take this news to its logical conclusion: it opens the door to targeted, and potentially invasive, mobile marketing. The rise of big data, along with increasingly sophisticated analytics like these, is giving marketers yet another feather in their mobile cap — once the app has outed a potentially bored user, marketers would then have the ability push their wares on a captive demographic.
“Boredom often goes with a naturally impulsive mindset,” or so claims the BBC, meaning that users may be more inclined to make spontaneous purchasing decisions in their bored state of mind.
The idea of aggressive ad sells is no recent development — Samsung was previously reported to be developing technology that could pause a video when the user looks away. The commercial can be seen on Youtube. Many of us know that much of the internet is marketing, but users should at least have the right to look away.
No Soma Required
Luckily, advances in user analytics and data mining doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to find ourselves in that incredibly creepy episode of Black Mirror. Being productive on your smartphone can be surprisingly simple, and solutions for social groups, small businesses, or individuals are now just a couple of taps away.
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