Info Sci PhD Elizabeth Murnane and her Cornell colleagues were recognized for their forward-thinking research at the MobileHCI 2016 conference held in Florence, Italy, this month.

The research team's paper, "Mobile Manifestations of Alertness: Connecting Biological Rhythms with Patterns of Smartphone App Use", received the Best Paper Award, given to just two of all conference submissions. The research investigates the relationship between our inner biological clocks – our circadian rhythms – and mobile app use. Among the team's findings:

• App use patterns differ for early birds and night owls

• Usage correlates with rhythms of alertness

• App use behavior – such as how long users remained connected to a single app or how often and how quickly they switched among different apps – can help identify periods of low and high alertness

• App use reflects sleep interruptions as well as sleep duration

With these findings, the team makes the case for more biologically friendly technology. 

"[A] greater awareness of our innate biological rhythms could positively impact the way we design such technology, which could in turn support improved productivity and overall well-being on a broadly deployable scale," Murnane and her coauthors wrote. 

Co-authors on this award-winning paper are Cornell Information Science scholars Saeed Abdullah and Mark Matthews, Matthew Kay of Cornell Computer Science and Engineering, Julie Kientz of the University of Washington, and Info Sci faculty Tanzeem Choudhury, Geri Gay and Dan Cosley. 

MobileHCI 2016 – in its 18th annual iteration – is an international conference on human-computer interaction with mobile devices and services. It is considered the premiere conference for innovations in mobile, wearable and personal devices and the services accessible through them.