Research IT

Using Mobile Games to Test Hypotheses in Biological Timing

The Brighter Time mobile app, developed by the Research IT Mobile Development Service (MDS) featured as part of the University’s contribution to British Science Week this year. Find out more about how we helped researchers from the Centre For Biological Timing showcase their research.

The Research IT Mobile Apps Development Service (MDS) was proud to be part of British Science Week 6th-15th March 2020. Around 600 11-15 year old pupils and their teachers from Greater Manchester, attended the Biodiscovery Day at the Manchester Museum (#BioDiscovery2020) 12th-13th March. One of the 25 stands was run by the Centre For Biological Timing(CFBT) with the purpose of sharing their exciting research with the general public.

The Brighter Time mobile application, developed by MDS and based on the doctoral studies of CFBT researcher Marina Gardasevic, featured heavily. The app offers a selection of mobile games which test the user’s reaction times, memory and recognition. Within a controlled laboratory environment, the app can be configured to collect play statistics as well as ambient light levels and screen brightness. This data can then be correlated with user profile information such as sleeping habits and routine. When used with controlled groups this enables the researchers to conduct studies into the effects of ambient light levels, sleeping habits and circadian rhythm on human performance.

For the general public, a sanitised app without data collection was made available as a showcase of the technology. Whether using zombies as target practice or playing a game of whack-a-mole, the app brought out the competitive spirit of the general public and was considered crucial to the event’s success. Pupils could see how scores varied across different age groups and throughout the day with researchers on the stand explaining how the light levels have a significant impact on our brain and motivation.

The mobile application took MDS developers around 6 months to build from scratch and couples three key technologies: a cross-platform mobile framework, an embedded game engine and a secure, on-campus data store. The final solution is a gameified, secure data collection tool deployed on both Android and iOS devices.

If you are interested in developing a mobile app for your research project contact the Mobile Development Service Lead to find out more.