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My App is an Experiment - Planet-Scale User Studies in Mobile Application Stores

Location: Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 20th Floor, Auditorium 1
TITLE: My App is an Experiment - Planet-Scale User Studies in Mobile Application Stores

SPEAKER: Niels Henze (University of Stuttgart / Human-Computer Interaction group)

User studies in mobile Human-Computer Interaction research are often conducted in a highly controlled environment and with a small convenient sample. As most of our participants are young male computer scientists we usually do not study our real target group. As mobile phones are rarely used in labs we also do not study our real context. Such common studies can have a high internal validity but often lack external validity. The findings cannot always be generalized to the behaviour of real users in real contexts.
In contrast, researchers recently started to use apps as an apparatus for mobile HCI research. Mobile application stores can make research prototypes widely available and enable user studies "in the wild" with participants from all over the world. Using apps as an apparatus goes beyond just distributing research prototypes. Consider apps as a tool for research means distributing specifically designed prototypes in order to monitor mobile users and extend our understanding of HCI. We will outline recent research in the field including our own apps that have been installed up to 400,000 times and, more importantly, served as a tool to conduct a number of HCI studies. We discuss advantages of the approach and argue that it enabled findings that would be impossible to obtain using traditional studies.

Niels is researcher at the University of Stuttgart in the Human-Computer Interaction group. Beforehand, he was a doctoral student at the University of Oldenburg and worked as a researcher at the research institute OFFIS. His research is generally focused on mobile human-computer interaction. Particularly, He is interested in large-scale studies using mobile application stores as a research tool, interlinking physical objects and digital information, and multimodal interfaces. Niels published over 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals and conferences and received best paper awards from MobileHCI and CHI. He organized several scientific events such as the workshop on Research in the Large at MobileHCI 2012. Niels served as a guest editor for the International Journal on Mobile Human Computer Interaction, and has been a reviewer for a number of conferences and journals. Niels lectures human-computer interaction in practical and theoretical courses for several years. He developed and supervised the development of mobile applications to conduct large-scale user studies that have been installed more than one million times in total.

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