Google's Screenwise research project announced back in February is designed to collect data on more than just Internet behavior. In addition to custom wireless routers that gather information on participants' browsing and downloading habits, the recently mailed recruiting brochure describes a device "a little bigger than a smartphone" called Screenwise TV Tab. TV Tab "captures audio signals that enables the study to identify which TV programs are being viewed."
The information TV Tab collects includes:
- Identity of person logging into the Screenwise TV Tab
- Timestamps indicating time of log-in and log-out
- Duration of television usage per session
- The total amount of time a television is used in the household
I haven't seen the device, but I think it could be based on Android and powered by this TV Tab app developed by Mobile Research Labs. Android market lists the number of installs for this app at between 10 and 50.
In addition, a different Screenwise app (which looks like a version of Lumi's AnalyzeMe) captures participants' smartphone habits. Among the more interesting things the app collects are:
- Frequency of use of device calendar
- Battery status
- Whether you are using your smartphone inside or outside your home
- How long music is played, and the title and artist for each song
- Timestamp and duration of any video viewed on smartphone
- all URL's and advertisements viewed
- When a Panelist opens or closes an application
Google, who is conducting this research together with GfK, is offering a sign-up incentive of $100 with up to an additional $50 for each month the participating household stays in the study.
Some people who were randomly selected to receive a recruiting mailer (accompanied with a crispy two-dollar bill), are concerned it might be a scam, or worse: "The money is real too! A $2 Dollar bill? SO weird man... never heard of anything like this."