Today, my enthusiasm was triggered by…

…the Mappiness iPhone App, created by George MacKerron and Susana Mourato of the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The main aim of the application is to be able to link happiness to location. Concretely, the app ‘beeps’ you as a user once (or more) a day to ask how you feel, and additionally the people you’re with, and what you are doing. Using the GPS data from your iPhone, your happiness scores are linked to a location. Also, the noise level in your surroundings is measured by using the built-in microphone in your iPhone. All this data is then sent to the database for analysis by the researchers.
So why am I so enthusiastic about this?

  • Because happiness and location are straightforward variables. They are easy to understand, and the ins & outs are explained in a fool-proof manner.
  • Because I’d like to know this too! In the list of questions that have puzzled humanity for ages, the question “what makes one happy” is probably right on top. Every step in the direction of an answer is one I’d like to witness. Furthermore, knowing the answer on my individual level (what context makes me happy) is extremely relevant for me. This app provides me an experience, a very relevant issue for the market researcher of the future.
  • Because they clearly explain what’s in it for them too. The communication on their website is top notch. These people are trying to take research about happiness forward, and give me a comfortable feeling about my privacy. I can get out whenever I want, and can even get my data erased upon request. The way they communicate on their website is an example for all research agencies.
  • Because it’s easy data collection. Every single response is valid, as data is aggregated. Easy in, easy out, and every single piece of data is useful, unlike traditional research where a whole questionnaire needs to be completed before the respondent’s data is included.
  • Because context is key. As stated in a previous post, context is an indispensable part of research in the future. This app shifts the balance almost completely from content to context; 1 key variable (happiness) with a lot of interesting context variables around it. I especially like the noise level idea.
  • Because the possibilities for ‘upscaling’ this are endless. Once we know who people are with and where they are, why not ask which brands they interact with? What clothes they wear? What the weather is like? How much money they have in their wallet? …

To sum it up, this app is simple, relevant, credible, easy, gives contextual information and has a large potential for future growth. This is one application I will keep in mind when discussing observational research here at InSites Consulting.
Follow me on twitter via @eliasveris

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