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Tech times two for the summer

As the summer draws ever closer and people start to jet abroad on their travels, we take a look at two great pieces of technology that could help us when conducting qualitative research internationally.

The first is Lifetrekker, an ingenious little app that helps keep a visual record of overseas trips. It uses GPS to track your path as you move across a city and plots this on a map. You can then annotate the route with photos, videos, text — even sounds — to bring your journey to life. For me, Lifetrekker is a great way to capture my experiences of conducting international fieldwork. But could it be used by respondents as well as researchers? As a cross between a diary study and a passive tracking app, it certainly has potential as a way of gaining a detailed picture of consumers’ lives.

The second is a little bit more futuristic and evokes memories of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Pilot is a clever set of wireless headphones that can translate from one language to another. It has smashed its crowdfunding target and is set to launch in May next year. Upon launch, it will be able to translate between four different languages: English, Spanish, French and Italian. Don’t expect this piece of technology to solve all the issues with simultaneous translation: of course there are the usual difficulties of time lags and understanding specific dialects. But these headphones could go a long way in helping translate between respondents, agency-side researchers and clients in international research projects.


Emma Muckersie
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, August 2016
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2016