Crowdsourcing mobile apps are sprouting like mushrooms in app stores. If you’ve used Uber, Airbnb, or Easy Taxi before, then you probably have an idea how they work. People sharing resources for consumption, whether product or service, is a trend that is shaping our digital habits. From booking a car via mobile to shared rooms or apartments, to open Q&A forums like Quora, to crowdsourced travel information like MiFlight, we have become more interdependent users like never before.
1. Be My Eyes
From the Lifestyle category, Be My Eyes taps the crowd to assist blind people in need via live audio-video connection. It allows blind users to call for help, and a crowd of sighted people will respond (whoever is available) and tell the blind user what he or she sees through the rear-facing camera. Sighted users can accept or reject the call, depending on their availability, and they don’t need to worry if they missed one, because someone else can take the call.
This is one of the popular crowd apps during the pro democracy movement in Hong Kong, which allows users to chat with people around them without mobile network coverage or Internet connection (on board, just turn on Airplane mode and activate Bluetooth or Wi-Fi). However, unlike WhatsApp or WeChat, FireChat (iOS app | Android app) comes with public chat rooms, where everyone – the public – can see the messages and the crowd responds simultaneously and anonymously since it doesn’t require real names. You can create your own chat rooms to engage with a community of like-minded Game of Throne enthusiasts or local campaigns and activities.
Ask, and people, enthusiasts and experts in their field, will provide you the answers. You can drop your questions and the crowd can answer them simultaneously. This open community fosters learning and encourages you to contribute as well in answering other users’ questions. It comes with social media integration, so you can connect your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts to connect with other followers.
4. Figure 1
This app is exclusive for medical practitioners, allowing them to upload and share photos and connect with their colleagues for further collaboration. Think Instagram for doctors and medical professionals. They can share their findings or discover images and discuss research and more while protecting the patients’ privacy.
MiFlight provides you real-time crowdsourced updates – through social sharing from the travelers – on airport lines and security checkpoints at the terminals. How long is the line? Stay informed, and MiFlight provides you maps of the airport, too.
Hola! Machine translations are becoming popular as well, and with Duolingo’s crowdsourced language translation platform, you can learn a new language for free in a fun, interactive, and game-like way using your mobile phone. Track your progress and share them in social networks.
Uber provides you a private car while on the go. This on-demand service is already available in over forty countries and saves your waiting time in the taxi line. The app allows riders to pay via PayPal or credit card, compare the fare rates and be picked up from their current location in a few minutes.
It’s your home away from home. With Airbnb, travelers can find one-of-a-kind space to stay in while in transit using their mobile devices. Thousands of listings are available in the platform, allowing travelers to compare the prices, and at the same time, the hosts are also given the opportunity to earn money by renting out their space, whether it’s a private room, an entire apartment, or a Tesla S car that has a sleeping bed inside for $85 per night!
What lies ahead?
Can you just imagine our future if consumers adopt this sharing attitude? While there are perks (cheaper options, meaningful and purposeful experiences) and inspiring stories coming from crowdsourcing efforts, naysayers and skeptics also find these loopholes of open economy: who can access the data? The risks involve privacy and security issues and asks the question of what happens to the data being exchanged in-real time between these apps. There are also challenges such as regulatory issues in certain regions that deter their usage.
What do you think of these crowdsourcing mobile apps? Have you tried some of them? Share your experience in the comments below.