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Date: May 13, 2019

Murmuras: University of Bonn Spin-Off receives EXIST-grant for analysis of smartphone behavior in human science

Scientists offer smartphone technology to researchers worldwide.

Smartphones generate a plethora of data and thus provide rich insights into the lives of their owners. So far, only Big-Tech benefited from these capabilities; academic researchers remained excluded. Murmuras, a start-up from the University of Bonn, now offers a software platform, allowing researchers to independently record smartphone behavior of study-participants, run statistical analyses, correlate and visualize data. The spin-off has originated in the Menthal project, a unique study of the behavior of 500.000 smartphone users. Numerous researchers world-wide had requested to use the underlying technology for their own studies. Possible research areas include psychiatric disorders like depression, mobility and consumer behavior or social media usage.

This new full-service platform now allows academic institutions and consumer research companies to independently realize smartphone-based studies. „Many academic institutions and researchers lack the technical know-how and financial power to conduct such studies on their own“ – according to Alexander Markowetz, initiator and longtime leader of the project – „this platform will allow to generate an entire range of new primary data. We enable studies with data points at high-frequency, large cohorts, and long duration, while simultaneously increasing data quality“.

The technology is based on the Menthal app, which has provided participants with feedback regarding their smartphone usage since 2014. It shows for example how much time a user has spend on the phone, using which apps. The Menthal app will continue to remain free, and its data will not be used commercially. Murmuras will commercialize only the underlying technology. 

The founding team consists of the computer science PhD students Ionut "Johnny" Andone and Konrad Blaszkiewicz – who developed the Menthal projekt – as well as the Qais Kasem an experiences business developer. As of March 1st 2019, the team receives an EXIST startup grant from the German Ministy for Economy and Energy (BMWI). Professor Andreas Weber mentors the project. Its name is derived from “murmuration” - flocking behavior.  In the coming months, the young company will grow, increase its head-count and offer its services to academic institutions and consumer researchers world-wide.

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