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What can 1 billion trials tell us about visual search?

Mitroff, Stephen R.; Biggs, Adam T.; Adamo, Stephen H.; Dowd, Emma Wu; Winkle, Jonathan; Clark, Kait


Stephen R. Mitroff

Adam T. Biggs

Stephen H. Adamo

Emma Wu Dowd

Jonathan Winkle

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Dr Kait Clark
Senior Lecturer in Psychology (Cognitive and Neuro)


Mobile technology (e.g., smartphones and tablets) has provided psychologists with a wonderful opportunity: through careful design and implementation, mobile applications can be used to crowd source data collection. By garnering massive amounts of data from a wide variety of individuals, it is possible to explore psychological questions that have, to date, been out of reach. Here we discuss 2 examples of how data from the mobile game Airport Scanner (Kedlin Co., can be used to address questions about the nature of visual search that pose intractable problems for laboratory-based research. Airport Scanner is a successful mobile game with millions of unique users and billions of individual trials, which allows for examining nuanced visual search questions. The goals of the current Observation Report were to highlight the growing opportunity that mobile technology affords psychological research and to provide an example roadmap of how to successfully collect usable data.


Mitroff, S. R., Biggs, A. T., Adamo, S. H., Dowd, E. W., Winkle, J., & Clark, K. (2015). What can 1 billion trials tell us about visual search?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(1), 1-5.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 6, 2014
Publication Date Feb 1, 2015
Deposit Date Aug 2, 2017
Journal Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
Print ISSN 0096-1523
Electronic ISSN 1939-1277
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 1
Pages 1-5
Keywords visual search, big data, mobile applications, airport scanner, multiple-target search
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Publisher URL