While the common data streams discussed in Common Data Streams, such as location, physical activity, and contact pattern of the participants, provides sufficient data for most behavioural studies, it will not cover all use-case scenarios. There are specific types of data which are not available from all smartphones, but provide essential contextual data which can be critical for some research studies.
Particularly with the growing popularity of wearable devices, each capable of recording a specific type of data such as blood-pressure, heart-beat, or stress-level, it's nearly impossible to include logic for recording all data types in Ethica app.
To make sure Ethica can be used to collect all data types required for a study, we are working on an API which allows extending Ethica for data collection from a custom data stream. As currently this API is under development and it can change, we will not include its details here. We provide three examples of custom data streams implemented using this API, and explain how they can be used in a given study.
If you are interested to use Ethica for monitoring a custom stream of data, please let us know and we can work together to develop the required plugin.
Due to technical issues, as of now custom streams are only available in Android platform.
The following streams are examples to demonstrate the possibilities of collecting data from different sources using Ethica Health. You can easily integrate any of these streams into your study, or modify them to match your needs.
This stream records how often participants are using which app, per day. App Usage stream is a custom data stream. If a study chooses to monitor app usage stream as well, all participants in that study will be notified to download and install the separate extension app which provides this functionality. You can read more about participant's experience in App Usage Notification for Participants section.
This stream of data is only available from participants using an Android device. For each participant, this stream reports the name of the apps they used per day, and how long (in seconds) they used each app.
Each app usage record includes the following:
The unique codename of the app used, for example com.ethica.logger for Ethica Health or com.facebook.kanata for Facebook. Internally stored as
The amount of time this app was in foreground, in millisecond. An app is considered foreground if one of it's screens is the current active screen and user is looking at it (i.e. the screen is on) or interacting with it. This value should be interpreted together with Interval explained below. Internally stored as
The interval of time which the app remained foreground for the time specified in Foreground Time. This value can be different for different versions of the Android, but for most cases it's 1 day (i.e. 86,400,000 milliseconds).
As an example, if a record is shown as follow:
- app_name: com.instagram.android
- fg_time_ms: 2,345,013
- interval_ms: 86,400,000
It means during the past 24 hours (86,400,000 milliseconds), the participant was using Instagram (com.instagram.android) for approximately 39 minutes (2,345,013 milliseconds).
Browsing history stream is a custom data stream, available as an extesion to Ethica Health for Android. This stream records URLs visited by participants on thier Android device. Considering the privacy concerns around this type of data, and technical challenges in the collection, the amount of data collection from different versions of Android and different browsers is not the same.
If the device is running Android 5.0 or below, all URLs visited in Chrome or Android default Browser is recorded, assuming participant did not browse the URL in private or incognito mode.
Alternatively if the participant is using Firefox, and has Ethica Health plugin for Firefox installed, the URL for all non-secure websites are recorded. The behaviour for Firefox plugin can be additionally configured to capture the content of the page which are of interest as well. For example it can be instructed to record the content of all pages which have smoking-related keywords.
Empatica E4 Wrist Watch
Empatica E4 wristband is capable of recording stress-level. This extension allows Ethica to record data through Epmathica E4 wristband and upload them to Ethica servers, or use them for context analysis to decide when a survey should be released.