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Crowd-sensing apps tap every stranger’s eyes and ears

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Posted March 29, 2013

When social networks and location apps collide, you can suddenly ask people anywhere what’s happening where they are. What will you want to know?

HAS the headliner come on-stage at Madison Square Garden yet? Any free washing machines at the laundrette around the corner? It would be impractical to rig up electronic sensors to answer such questions about every place on the planet, but the people in those places already know the answers, if only you could ask them.

An application called MoboQ does exactly this by linking social networks with location data to let users ask time-sensitive questions about specific locations, and get them answered by complete strangers on the spot. This is crowd-sensing: a way of tapping into networks of distributed human beings.

But there’s a catch. This hip social-media app is not the offspring of Silicon Valley, but the product of a Shanghai technology incubator called Diggerlab. It is only available in China with Sina Weiboa Twitter-equivalent which boasts 400 million members. MoboQ lets its users ask questions about specific places in the physical world and then finds up to 15 Sina Weibo users best positioned to answer, based on their recent activity on Weibo and Jiepang, China’s equivalent of location-based service Foursquare. You need to be signed up to MoboQ to ask a question, but anyone on Weibo can answer it.

Read more at: NewScientist.com

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