Science XL is an iOS (only, for now…) app that’s designed to collect the response times of thousands of users when categorizing strings of letters into « words » or « non-words » (lexical decision task in psychology jargon). It’s free so you can test it for yourself if you like, and if you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch close by (take it here, or just search for Science XL on the App Store).
Compared with previous large-scale scientific experiments that were conducted in lab or on the web, the important differentiator with our project is the use of devices that are used by millions of people around the world, that can give us very precise timestamps of when a stimulus is displayed and when the user touches the screen, all for free both for the user and the researchers (well almost for free, since we had to develop our own application).
This will help us conduct the first « extra »-large experiment in the world, and we have big hopes that this is only the start of a long journey. Indeed Science XL could rapidly become the legitimate platform for conducting well-designed, privacy-respectful, ethical « XL » scientific experiments.