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Showing posts from August, 2012

Crowdsourced line wait-time forecasting using smartphones

Have you ever been frustrated with the unpredictability of the coffee shop line waiting times? I have, and far too many times. (I am fast growing into a grumpy old man.) I frequent the Tim Hortons coffee shop at our Student Union at University at Buffalo. Sometimes I would walk there to grab a quick mocha only to find a long waiting line and I would have to walk all the way back with empty hands. One day it hit me that this is a perfect opportunity to put our research on crowdsourced coordination and collaboration using smartphones to good use. We proceeded to develop Android and iPhone apps that forecasts the current (and near future) line waiting times at this coffee shop.

In the first version of our app, we asked users to manually provide line wait-times when they are waiting in line and tried to serve other users with the data input by these. Our model was: "if you used our app 5 times to get wait-time forecasted, before you can use it again, we ask you to report the wait ti…

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