PhoneLab Image PhoneLab. Only at UB CSE.

Join us as we build the largest open-access participatory smartphone testbed.

Reserve Your Free Phone

in which will be during 2014-2015

PhoneLab is an open-access, large-scale, participatory testbed for smartphone research. This probably doesn't mean much to you, so let us break it down:

When you join PhoneLab, we will provide you with a smartphone (Google Galaxy Nexus) and an unlimited plan from Sprint free of charge. After the first year, we will provide a plan at a discounted rate of about $61 every month. In return, we expect that you participate in research studies regularly, using your phone as you normally would.

So what does all this mean? Read on and find out!

Why you should join PhoneLab
How to join PhoneLab
Your Unlimited Plan from Sprint
Duration of Participation
Research Participation
Data Collection
Broken/Lost/Stolen Phones

Why You Should Join PhoneLab

Here are few reasons:

  • You will play a critical role for innovating the next generation of smartphones. We will have many researchers using PhoneLab to improve the way we use smartphones. Through PhoneLab, researches will be testing the user experience, WiFi, 3G, and 4G performance, and even the performance of the operating system. If you join PhoneLab, you will participate in evaluating new technologies, directly contributing to the next generation of smartphones.
  • Participating in PhoneLab will be fun. PhoneLab is not just about participating in research. We will have fun community activities where you can enjoy free food, meet other PhoneLab participants, and learn about the projects that are being implemented over PhoneLab.
  • You are PhoneLab. Since this year will be the first year of operation, we will actively seek your feedback on our project, adding new features and fine-tuning our software. Your feedback and your participation will show us the future of PhoneLab.

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How to Join PhoneLab

The Selection Process: If you are selected to participate in PhoneLab, you will be notified by 8/21/13. There are many things being considered during selection.

  • Firstly, the size of our testbed depends on your retention. We are looking for those who are in it for the long run, who will be participating for three or more years. The longer you stay in, the larger our testbed will get!
  • Secondly, we only have 250 phones to give out, so we can only accommodate for so many. Our ideal choices would be faculty, staff, or first and second year PhD students because they are likely to be here the longest.

Pick Up Your Phone! Once selected, you can come get your Google Galaxy Nexus . We will contact you with instructions on when and where to get your phone. You will be required to show your student ID and be ready for a photo! So, check your emails!

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Your Unlimited Plan from Sprint

Your first year is on us! We will pay for your service plan until August 2014. Our plan includes: Unlimited Texting, Unlimited Data, Unlimited Mobile to Mobile calling, and 300 minutes to landlines. We do not cover international roaming charges.

After the first year you will have to take over the monthly bill. However, it is a discounted plan at roughly $61/month. For an unlimited plan, this is a great deal.

This is made possible by generous support from Sprint and National Science Foundation (NSF).

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Duration Of Participation

We believe that participating in PhoneLab will be fun and we are providing a great and affordable service plan that cannot be matched. So, we would like you to stay in PhoneLab for as long as possible. When you receive a phone from us, our basic expectation will be for you to participate for three or more years. This is the reason why we are providing the first year of free service as well as a discounted plan for later years. However, if for some reason you decide to leave us, you have an option to do so after the first year. At that point, you will have to return your phone.

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The participation mainly consists of two parts. There is basic operational participation and research participation that we expect from our participants.

Operational Participation

Operationally, we would like you to participate in the following ways:

  • You will need to use your phone as your primary phone. This is the most basic level of participation we expect from you because our goal of realism depends on this model of usage.
  • A few times a month, we will communicate with you through email for important updates related to our operation. Some of these updates might require you to respond and react accordingly, but we will keep this to minimum.
  • We also ask that you use our PhoneLab app and our website to check up on new features and provide feedback on your experience.
  • We’ll be pushing out software updates regularly to your phone. This is an automatic process, but will need your confirmation by asking you to touch a button that we display on your phone. If you confirm, then the phone will reboot itself automatically and update the software. The whole process will take around a minute of your time.
  • For rare occasions when your phone behaves erroneously, we will provide instructions on how to restart or reset your phone. In the worst case, you might have to come to our lab so we can fix it. However, we are going to internally test our updates thoroughly, and we do not anticipate such problems to occur.

Research Participation

In addition to the operational participation, we will expect you to participate in research experiments. Broadly speaking, there will be two types of experiments available to participate, which differ in the level of participation.

Some interactive apps might just ask you to participate in a survey or visit a website; other apps might ask you to perform some specific tasks. A good example of this kind is the Core Sample project by Teri Rueb at UB Media Study, where a participant uses the app for 15 - 20 minutes while visiting certain locations. Since these interactive experiments require your time and attention, we will limit this type of participation to a few hours a month.

Participant Responsibilities and Expectations

Since the operation of PhoneLab is part of our research study, we would like to communicate with you clearly about what your responsibilities and our expectations are.

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Data Collection

Distributing smartphones to real people as part of our research involves collecting information from each phone, which sometimes involves information considered private. Thus, it is critical for us to make sure that each participant understands what data is collected and how it is used. Here, we give an overview, then explain what information we collect and why in more detail.

Data Collection Overview

  1. Protecting participants is our priority. PhoneLab is a participatory testbed; this means that without participants like you, PhoneLab cannot exist. Because of this reason, from the inception of PhoneLab, we have been considering participant protection as one of the priorities in our decision making process.
  2. Our operation of PhoneLab will be transparent. This means that at any point of time, if a participant wants to know what information has been collected, how it is used, or even where it is stored, we will provide a way for the participant to review it.
  3. Research studies will require IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval. Getting IRB approval is common in the fileds of medicines and psychology, where research studies involve human subjects. The approval process requires each experiment to be reviewed by a group of experts to ensure that the experiment protects the rights of the participants and is safe. This process is per-institution; for example, UB has a website that explains UB's procedure. Each of the PhoneLab research experiments will require the approval of IRB as part of our protection mechanism for participants.

Types of Information Collected

We collect information from your phone for two purposes, and the types of information we collect depends on each purpose.

  1. PhoneLab Operations: The first purpose of collecting your phone information is to operate PhoneLab. For this, we collect the following information:
    • Phone status: We will periodically check if the phone is operating properly since knowing the health of each phone is obviously crucial for our operation.
    • Phone location: We will periodically record where the phone is based on its GPS and WiFi information. We will use this information strictly for our operational reasons, e.g., to locate a phone when it is lost or stolen. We will not release this information to anybody outside of the PhoneLab team.
    • Phone battery level: As mentioned above, each phone runs our software. Thus, it is important to minimize any potentially disruption that our software might cause for your normal phone usage. For this purpose, we will monitor the battery level of your phone to avoid performing any task that can potential drain much battery.
    • Application logs: Each smartphone app usually generates information (called logs) for trouble shooting. As part of our effort to ensure that each phone operates properly, we will collect these logs and use them for trouble shooting.
  2. Research Studies: The second purpose of collecting your phone information is to conduct research. Since PhoneLab is an open-access testbed that researchers inside and outside of UB can conduct their research with, we cannot foresee all information that future research will need to collect. Due to this reason, we will communicate with you regarding what information each experiment will collect and ask your permission per experiment. Before you agree to participate in an experiment, you will have an opportunity to review it and decline your participation if you are not comfortable with the information collected by the experiment.

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Broken/Lost/Stolen Phones

If you join PhoneLab, the phone we hand out to you is essentially yours. This means that it is your responsibility to manage and maintain your phone just as you would with your normal phone. Our service provider, Sprint, has a policy to provide a replacement for a $200 fee. If, for some reason, your phone gets broken, lost, or stolen, you will be responsible for this fee to get a replacement.