• What is the purpose of this study?
    • This project aims to use data collected from socially connected students to model how physical and mental health and academic and cognitive performance are influenced by social connections with others. We also seek to find how these connections impact sleep and behavior. Ultimately we would like to use the knowledge we gain to design interventions for better sleep, physical health, and mental health.

    • What will the study entail?
    • Individuals participating in the study will wear two sensors which can measure your activity, sleep, sweat on your skin, skin temperature, and light exposure. Participants will also answer morning and evening surveys each day during the study and complete pre- and post-experiment surveys. We also ask participants to install an android app to monitor your phone usage (the timing of call/sms/screen-on, whom you are connected through sms/call, location, app use). During one day of the 30-day study, the participant will visit BWH to do an experiment to measure saliva and cognitive performance. Finally, participants will be asked to log in to the Immersion system developed by Media Lab to log your email usage.

    • What types of social interactions does the study take into account?
    • Phone usage (Calls, SMS, Location, App Usage, Screen On/Off, relationships with social partners), Email usage (phone or computer), and self-reported interactions.


    • Was this study approved by MIT?
    • This study, including the online diaries, use of Immersion and phone app, Q-­sensor and Actiwatches, and all questionnaires, have been approved by MIT’s COUHES (# 1209005240). Our protocol is reviewed annually by COUHES.


    • Can I download this data?
    • We have not yet released de-identified data.

    • How much data have you collected?
    • As of October 2016, we have collected data from approximately 250 participants over the course of 4 years.

    • What is Immersion and what data is it collecting?
    • Immersion is an online visualization system for email metadata designed by the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab (immersion.media.mit.edu and macro.media.mit.edu). For the study, we are using Immersion as a way to collect and parse email metadata. That is, we are collecting the from, to, cc, and timestamp of emails and performing operations that document the social network among the study participants.

    • Can I try Immersion without logging in?
    • You can try a demo of Immersion at https://immersion.media.mit.edu/demo.

    • What does immersion store and does not store?
    • Immersion only stores email metadata (i.e., from, to, timestamp and cc). It does not store passwords or access tokens. Also, Immersion never download the content of the emails.

    Sensors and Sensor Data

    • What data is collected by the Actigraph and how does this sensor work?
    • An Actigraph (e.g., Motionloggers AMI, Ardsley NY) is used to measure sleep wake patterns. It is a non­invasive battery ­operated device that is the size of a wristwatch and is worn on the wrist of the non­dominant hand. It is approved for this research use, and is frequently used in studies in the Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and those of other investigators examining sleep and circadian rhythms. The actigraph uses an accelerometer and light meter to calculate the approximate sleep and wake timing of the user.

    • Which data is recorded with the Q­-sensor?
    • The Q-­sensor measures (1) skin conductance, (2) skin temperature, and (3) 3-axis acceleration data.

    • How is the Q-sensor data collected?
    • All the data are stored to a memory card inside the Q­-sensor. We download the data to our password ­protected computer on a weekly basis.

    • How often should I wear the sensors?
    • Both sensors must be worn day and night except when they might get wet, during which time, the Q-sensor will likely need to be recharged.

    • What if I wear the Q-sensor without turning it on?
    • The data will be fragmented and you will lose some of the data. Please turn on the Q-sensor by pressing the button before you put it on.

    • What if the Q-sensor runs out of battery?
    • The data the Q-sensor is logging will lose the timestamp and you will not be paid for the non time-stamped data. If the Q-sensor runs out of battery, you should report this to us ASAP.

    • How long will it take to charge the Q-sensor?
    • Charging will take about 30 minutes. If LED turns green, it is fully charged.

    • What if the sensors irritate my skin?
    • There is a risk that the sensor will feel uncomfortable. We will show you how to move the sensors around on your body so that they are snug but comfortable, and how to remove them. Although rare, there is potential for the sensors to cause mild irritation to the skin. To minimize this, please make sure any lotion applied to the area has been absorbed before putting on the sensor, and do not put the sensor on if the skin is broken or damaged.

    • What if my sensors run out of battery, stop working, or are lost?
    • If this happens, report this to the Snapshot Study team and we can reset the sensor or issue a new one. Individuals who lose sensors will not be eligible for the end of study bonus.

    Mobile Phone Data

    • Which information is the app collecting?
    • The app is collecting: (1) timing and sender or recipient phone numbers of calls and text messages, (2) timing of screen on/off, (3) location, (4) timing of application use and the name of application process, and (5) device information (e.g, phone type, WIFI/Bluetooth mac address). We do not record SMS messages, phone conversations, internet browsing history, or which keys were pressed on the phone.

    • How is the mobile phone data collected?
    • All the collected data is encrypted on the phone and then sent to the server at MIT Media Lab.

    • How confidential is the mobile phone data?
    • Software on mobile phones automatically de-identifies your data by encrypting all the to/from numbers or sender/recipient names.

    • What if my phone is replaced during the study?
    • If it is replaced during the study, you must re-install the phone application and report this event to the Snapshot Study team.


    • Do I have to have an Android phone to participate?
    • Yes. You need to have an Android phone to participate.

    • How long will the study last?
    • Most participants will be included in a 30 day study. Some participants will be asked to extend beyond 30 days. You will be compensated for each day you participate.

    • What is the payment for participation?
    • You get paid up to $770 based on how many days you participated.

    • If I volunteer to participate in this study, how do I sign up?
    • Please email us at snapshot@media.mit.edu. Then we will set up an information session to explain the experiment. During that visit, we will ask you to complete questionnaires about yourself, your living situation, and your grades, and measure electrocardiogram, skin conductance, and possibly pulse wave data.

    • If I will be traveling more than one time zone away from Cambridge, can I still participate in the study?
    • No, if you travel more than one time zone away from Cambridge, MA one week prior to the study or travel more than one time zone away from Cambridge, MA at any time during the study, you cannot participate in the study.

    Overnight Study at the Brigham-Women’s Hospital

    • What does the overnight stay entail?
    • You will be asked to stay overnight for one night so that we can collect basic information (height, weight), and additional information about your daily rhythms of hormones, performance, and alertness. The stay will involve measuring some basic physiology from the surface of your skin (blood pressure and heart rate) and also a series of either saliva or urine tests for melatonin. There will not be any invasive measures and no blood is drawn.

    • Will I get reimbursed for my travel expenses to Brigham Women’s Hospital?
    • Yes.

    Withdrawal from Study

    • What if I have to or am asked to withdraw from the study?
    • If you must drop out because the team asks you to or because you have decided on your own to withdraw, you will be paid per day that you participated and gave complete data.