Free Nexus 5 smartphone.
Unlimited voice, messaging, data.
PhoneLab 2014-15 information session (May 16, 2014).
Back to top
Why should I become a PhoneLab participant?
- You will save money!
We are offering Google Nexus 5 smartphone with unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling plus nights and weekends,
unlimited messaging, and unlimited data plan.
The cost will be around $45 per month payable in six-month increments but without long-term contracts.
The equivalent smartphone would cost $200 and the equivalent service contract $80 / month if purchased directly from Sprint.
- 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 user experience, WiFi, 3G, and 4G
performance, app energy usage, and even Android system performance.
If you join PhoneLab, you will participate in evaluating new technologies,
directly contributing to the next generation of smartphones.
Back to top
What will be the unlimited plan from Sprint that I will receive?
Back to top
What will be the length of my participation?
We believe that participating in PhoneLab
will be fun. This is a great and affordable service plan that can not be matched.
We would like you to stay in PhoneLab for as long as possible.
However, if for some reason you decide to leave, you will have an option to do so at six-months intervals.
At that point, you will have to return your phone.
Back to top
How can I become a participant in PhoneLab for the year 2014-2015?
Fill out this form!
Please review all the information carefully.
Pick Up Your Phone!
If you decide to participate, we will send you a PayPal invoice for $275 for the first six month service period by August 1, 2014.
After you pay, you can pick up your
Google Nexus 5 on or after August 15, 2014.
We will contact you with instructions on how to get your phone.
Back to top
What is PhoneLab anyway?
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:
means researchers inside and outside of UB will conduct studies
using PhoneLab. For example, when you participate in PhoneLab, you
would be using applications that researchers develop and you would
provide feedback on those apps.
means we will have many phones involved in PhoneLab research. Our
goal is to provide 700 smartphones to the hands of participants in PhoneLab.
means we need participants like you to join PhoneLab. Our phones
are to be used by real people in real life. Our research depends on
your participation. You will become a part of our testbed, a
platform that researchers can use to implement their experiments.
Back to top
How much will I be expected to participate in PhoneLab research?
participation mainly consists of two parts. There is
basic operational participation and research
participation that we expect from our participants.
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.
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
- Background experiments: We will conduct research experiments that do not require any attention from you. This is why we call them background experiments. One example in this category is the network performance measurement study, where we collect performance information from your phone for WiFi, 3G, and 4G networks. As you can imagine, this information gathering does not require your attention, and your participation is transparent---just using your phone normally as your primary phone.
- Interactive Experiments: We will also conduct research experiments that require you to actually use an application. This will involve downloading an app and using it regularly while the experiment is taking place. Your participation should model similar to this:
- Downloading an app from our website and installing it,
- Following the instructions on how to participate in the experiment,
- Optionally giving feedback to the researchers via our website or the app itself.
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.
- The above participation is required. If for some reason you do not participate, we will communicate with you to reach a resolution, which may result in temporarily stopping the service on your phone and getting your phone returned back to us.
- The phone should be your primary phone. Please be aware that this is critical for our study because one of our goals is realism. If you plan to switch between multiple phones, then you are unfortunately not qualified for our research participation.
- The phone should not be flashed with a custom "ROM." This is also critical for our study as we need to keep the same platform for every phone. Although Android phones allow installing custom OSes called "ROMs," it is not allowed on our phones.
Back to top
What kind of data will PhoneLab collect from my phone?
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Back to top
What happens if my PhoneLab phone is broken, lost or stolen?
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 current phone.
Our service provider, Sprint, provides a replacement phone for $200. If your phone gets
broken, lost, or stolen, you will still be responsible for this fee whether or not you get a replacement.
Back to top