Human World

Deborah Estrin uses cell phones to study human habits and environments

Researchers at UCLA are experimenting with a new tool for science you probably have in your pocket right now – your cell phone. Cell phones – and their owners – are being used as ‘mobile sensors’ in experimental studies. EarthSky spoke with Deborah Estrin, director of the Center for Embedded Network Sensing at UCLA.

Deborah Estrin told EarthSky that she sees cell phones as an existing infrastructure for science. They’re now like little computers, and they constantly gather data about you. You can upload that information from your phone onto a server and the web, and when it’s put in context, it can actually tell you something about your lifestyle.

For example, Estrin has a project called Personal Environmental Impact Report that tells you about the pollution you create and the pollution you’re exposed to as you go through your day.

It’s a way to measure and understand your choices, and then make smart changes to live more sustainably. Plus, it creates accurate data for scientists- who usually have to rely on long, tedious surveys – to understand how people move and live in an urban environment.

Our thanks to:
Deborah Estrin
Director, Center for Embedded Network Sensing
University of California
Los Angeles, CA

November 18, 2008
Human World

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