Boredom Study

Update: results of the study are now published at scientific conferences in the paper When Attention is not Scarce – Detecting Boredom from Mobile Phone Usage. We show that certain types of phone usage go along with an increased likeihood to be bored, and that people are more open to suggested content during these phases.

The boredom study is part of a research project with the goal to understand boredom, to learn when it occurs while using the mobile phone, to fight it when it annoys users, and to assist people when they desire to disconnect.

The study is led by:

  • Martin Pielot, associate researcher at Telefonica Research
  • Nuria Oliver, research director at Telefonica Research


The study is not running officially, but it is still possible to try the app that we used for gathering information in boredom and phone usage: Borapp. The app collects sensor data when your phone is in use and – few times each day – ask for your emotional state:

Screenshot 01 ESM

Battery and Internet Consumption

We have carefully designed the app to be resource conserving: Internet is only accessed via WiFi, never through your data plan, and the data collection has been designed with saving battery in mind.

Participation was entirely voluntary. You can quit the study at any time by uninstalling the application. Any kind of usage and participation from your side will be welcomed.

Data Collection

This section describes the data that Borapp collects. Apart from your coarse location and the email, if you specify it, no personal information will be collected.

To save battery, the majority of the information is only collected when you are using the phone, that is, when the screen is turned on.

The following data is ALWAYS collected

  • Whether headphones are connected
  • Battery level & drain
  • Charging state
  • Approximate Location (obtained via WiFi or cell-tower triangulation, NO GPS)
  • Time and type of notifications
  • Phone state (e.g. whether you are receiving a call, NO PHONE NUMBERS on NO CONTENT will be stored)
  • Proximity sensor = whether the screen is covered
  • Ringer mode (silent, vibrate, normal)
  • Screen ON/OFF events
  • SMS timestamps = when SMS are sent and received (NO SMS contents)
  • Estimated user activity (standing, walking, driving, …)

The following data is ONLY collected when the phone screen is on

  • Airplane mode – enabled or disabled
  • Air pressure
  • Ambient noise level
  • Cell tower info, e.g. ID and signal strength
  • Data consumption
  • Application in foreground
  • Humidity
  • Light level
  • Average acceleration
  • Time of events when notifications were read or dismissed
  • Screen orientation (portrait, landscape)
  • Wifi Info, e.g. whether connected to a WiFi or signal strength
  • Temperatur

At times, the application creates a notification. If you click the notification, it will take you to a very brief questionnaire. From this questionnaire, we will store

  • Whether you clicked the notification, and if you did
  • After how much time you clicked it
  • The responses you gave to the questions


To preserve the participants’ privacy, the app automatically assigns each participant a 6-digit code, such as a4519d. All the sensor data logged inside our database will be associated with this code. All the data will be locally stored in compliance with the German federal data protection act (BGBl. I S. 2325) on secure machines with very strict access control. Only the researchers carrying out this research project will have access to the data.

We will only publish aggregated results, that is, statistics of all users. We will never disclose your identity as a participant in this study.

Thank you!

Best regards,

Martin and Nuria

In case of questions, please contact Nuria and Martin via userstudies <at>


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