CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy

This speaker series is made possible by an anonymous charitable donation in memory of cypherpunks and privacy advocates Len Sassaman, Hugh Daniel, Hal Finney, and Caspar Bowden.

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The LiveLabs Urban LifeStyle Innovation Platform: Opportunities, Challenges, and Current Results

Rajesh Krishna Balan, Singapore Management University

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April 24, 2014 2:30pm, in DC 1304


A central question in mobile computing is how do you test mobile applications, that depend on real context, in real environments with real users? User studies done in lab environments are frequently insufficient to understand the real-world interactions between user context, privacy, environmental factors, application behaviour, and performance results. I will introduce LiveLabs, a 5 year project that started at the Singapore Management University in early 2012. The goal of LiveLabs is to convert four real environments, the entire Singapore Management University campus, a popular resort island, a large airport, and a popular shopping mall, into living testbeds where we instrument both the environment and the cell phones of opted-in participants (drawn from the student population and members of the public). We can then provide 3rd party companies, and researchers the opportunity to test their mobile applications and scenarios on the opted-in participants—on their real phones in the four real environments described above. LiveLabs will provide the software necessary to collect network statistics and any necessary context information. In addition, LiveLabs will provide software and mechanisms to ensure that privacy, proper participant selection, resource management, and experimental results and data are maintained and provided on a need-to-know basis to the appropriate parties.

I will describe the broad LiveLabs vision and identify the key research challenges and opportunities. In particular, I will highlight our current insights into indoor location tracking, dynamic group and queue detection, privacy, and energy aware context sensing for mobile phones. I will also share our current status (we have gone live at our university campus) and some of the non-obvious challenges that arise from deploying these systems in real environments.


Rajesh is an associate professor at Singapore Management University's School of Information Systems. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and has over 15 years of research experience in the broad area of mobile systems and software. Some of the diverse areas that he has worked on include infrastructure support for multiplayer mobile games, improvements to public transportation networks, understanding and improving the software development process in outsourced environments, and developing and testing novel retail-focused mobile applications.

Rajesh is also a director of the new LiveLabs Urban LifeStyle Innovation Platform. The goal of this platform is to allow mobile applications and services to be tested with real users on real phones in real-world environments. Currently, LiveLabs has been deployed at a university campus with further deployments at an airport, a resort island, and a large mall planned for the near future. More details about LiveLabs can be obtained at