Scientists Look To Mobile Games For Data Gathering

Location-based services on mobile phones are certainly nothing new, and neither is location-based gaming.

There are already a host of games out there whereby you can take on all sorts of virtual identities while moving around the real world. Fancy dealing with a zombie apocalypse while you wander around your home town? Or perhaps becoming a local crime lord... there are plenty of virtual reality options available to mobile gamers.

It would appear that scientists are now catching on, and suggesting using mobile games to "soft control" (that's weasel-speak for manipulate) people into carrying out tasks for them.

Venturebeat cites Fabian Bustamante, Associate Professor at Northwestern University, discussing the idea of using in-game rewards to encourage people to, for example, photograph more out of the way places.

Bustamante notes: "Flickr has thousands of photos of the front of the Lincoln Memorial. But who takes a picture of the back? Very few people."

His trial solution is a ghost hunting game where people snap real life locations which are "virtually haunted" to earn points, making those less photographed spots target areas. The resulting library of crowdsourced photos could then be used to construct 3D models, or for other projects.

We've no doubt this is a concept we'll be seeing more of. The only danger being with the Ghost Hunter game, every other photo will feature a comedian with a white sheet over their head, flailing their arms about.