The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Technology news and reviews for qualitative and market researchers

Alexa Conversations
"Alexa, what's today's date?" It's a common question asked of the reported 100 million Amazon Alexa devices sold. Yet until now, any conversation has been somewhat stilted and needing to be prefaced by "Alexa".
Top Tools
We've been trawling tech developments that we think fellow researchers might find helpful, rather than threatened by, and these are the results.
Transforming transcription
As a researcher, finding a reliable, cost effective and accurate transcription service can seem like a difficult task. The cheaper machine services can be inaccurate and incorrect, while human transcribers tend to be more accurate, but can be out of many people's price ranges.
I love choice. I love the fact that, as a qualitative researcher, there is such a diverse variety of technologies and methodologies available to me today.
Music to work to
Distractions, whether smart phones, colleagues, or office snacks, all make it increasingly difficult to focus on work. Small wonder then that food and drink innovations geared to boosting productivity and focus are entering the market, and now it's music streaming's turn.
New slant on incentives
Clients appreciate the service that a field agency brings, but possess little interest in what goes on behind the scenes to provide it, least of all the time-consuming but necessary task of paying incentives.
AI is Useless for Qual
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are changing how people do quant research, digital marketing and data analytics. But it's not relevant for qual research. Or is it?
Time to rethink new product testing
One of my pet peeves when it comes to new product testing is just how often we end up relying on mood boards or wordy feature lists to bring new ideas to life. How much can you really tell from a couple of mocked up pictures or a few sentences? And is this about to change?
Handy writing recognition apps
Quallies are more than familiar with hurriedly scribbling down fieldwork notes, only to be faced with a stack of paper the following day, and the mammoth job of typing the notes up. Coupled with the time pressure of report writing, this process often feels tedious andeven a little outdated. Thankfully, there are apps which can help.
Getting behind the screens
Update the iOS on your iPhone and you'll get access to a clever new feature. Screen Time allows iPhone users to better understand their own device usage.
Getting to grips with data
After a number of high profile data breaches, at companies like Facebook, Equifax and British Airways, and with GDPR continuing to make ripples across many industries, it may have been welcome news that Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet, has stepped into the fray with a new invention that promises to give people more control of their data.
Creating 'appy stakeholders
Engaging stakeholders in research can be an uphill battle. Time-poor and juggling dozens of other projects, a 100-slide report is probably the last thing they want to deal with.
Passive app tracking reveals hidden gems
Passive app tracking records a participant's smartphone usage. It can be used to track how they use apps or sites, or to acquire wider data sets depending on the research requirement. We frequently recruit participants for studies which involve smartphone usage being monitored in this way.
Better collaboration through technology
One of the joys of qualitative research is getting to work as a part of a team. But when you're out of the office on fieldwork, collaboration can be hard. Let me introduce you to two handy tools that make working together a piece of cake, even when you're doing so remotely.
Facial recognition... the key to understanding ad effectiveness?
In an earlier issue of In Brief, we explored how Apple's use of facial recognition technology in the iPhone X might transform research, particularly in relation to ad effectiveness. Fast forward to today and the technology has been built into out-of-home advertising to identify emotional reactions to ads.
Sweating the small stuff
Qualitative researchers are no strangers to uncovering insight that people don't always know, or feel ready to share. It's pretty much our raison d'ętre and technology continues to make this process ever more accessible.
Robo-journalism and the writing on the wall
The pace of development in translation technology is eye watering. Translation services from companies like DeepL and Google are posing threats to multiple industries and jobs as the technology behind their software becomes increasingly refined.
Ever been out doing fieldwork and had to dial into an analysis session? I have. Mural is a collaboration tool you might consider using to help.
Chatbots: the latest addition to our qual toolkit?
Let's talk chatbots. The technology around this computer program, designed to simulate human conversation, has seen significant growth in the past 12 months. Brands are developing chatbots to help consumers with everything – from finding their nearest store right through to ordering pizza.
Carboard cut-outs with Nintendo Labo
It's kind of ironic that the most innovative idea in technology this year so far consists of a few sheets of cardboard: Nintendo Labo for the Switch console. Labo consists of a video game and some pre-cut cardboard sheets. Slot these pieces together, though, then add the Switch controllers, and the magic begins.
How the iPhone X will reshape our industry
Last November, iPhone X burst on to the scene. In among the glossy launch video, there's one thing that stands out: Apple's use of facial recognition technology.
Crowd surfing into VR
Last year, Snapchat launched its new Crowd Surf feature. Using computers that are far too clever for their own good, Snapchat uses AI machine-learning technology to analyse when lots of people are simultaneously recording the same musical performance.
Human face of Mechanical Turk
With all the talk about Artificial Intelligence you'd be forgiven for thinking that the world was on the brink of a Terminator-style takeover.
Danger of forgetting our skills
Uber… We all love it, right? As qual researchers, I'm sure it's the saviour of many a late night in the office or moderating groups.
Facebook looks towards augmented reality
Facebook is placing big bets on augmented reality (AR) if new patents filed by Oculus are anything to go by. The Facebook-owned firm has plans to create augmented reality glasses be able to overlay images and videos on to real world environments.
Making things happen,... automatically
We now live in a world full of software and apps. Problem is, these often sit in their siloed place, merrily doing their thing, without consideration of the rest.
Altered images
Smartphones are great assets for us as researchers, allowing us to capture video and images in the moment wherever we are. Indeed, the camera element of my phone is probably one of the best tools I have in my pocket.
Join The Party
Meet Houseparty: the latest social networking app making a splash with teens. It's a live video chat app with a difference.
Free tools for better design
The ability to create powerful visual deliverables is increasingly becoming a skill that insight professionals need to master. But if, like most researchers, you don't have a background in graphic design, creating beautiful visual assets can be a real challenge.
Is technology always good?
There have been a couple of stories that caught my attention recently that have made me take a step back and think about technology and how we use it (or don't).
Hello… hello… hello…
Hello… hello… hello… That's what most of us call an Echo, but if Amazon has its way, the first thing that comes to mind in the future will be its far-field voice recognition device, which allows you to control all sorts of things using the Alexa Voice service.
Using Tripit?
What? You're a qual researcher and you're not using Tripit?
Moderating Robots
Five years ago, the ability for machines to 'talk' to us would have sounded like something from the far future. But today voice technology is scarily clever. Talk to Siri on your iPhone or Alexa on your Amazon Echo and they can organise your life!
VR takes over the world
There has been a lot of excitement about virtual reality in the world of research, particularly when it comes to qualitative research. Advances in technology, coupled with more affordable VR headsets, are opening up new opportunities for us as researchers.
The return of Google Glass?
Snapchat has long been one of the leaders in the social media sphere but it now looks to be making its mark in the physical world with the launch of its first tangible product.
Prisma mobile photo editing
As quallies, we're always on the lookout for new techniques to gain a deeper understanding of consumers' motivations and behaviours. Image sorting and magazine tear exercises are a great way to do this, as image associations help us get beyond the rational.