Waterloo’s MetricWire Improves Study Responses by Integrating Smartphones into Research

Leveraging the ubiquity of cell phones and our compulsion to constantly check them, Kitchener-Waterloo startup MetricWire aims to revamp the way academic studies are completed.

Their product is a platform that researchers can use to more reliably reach their study participants. Instead of depending on participants to complete journals, to answer surveys on desktop machines or to report results after the fact, MetricWire leverages the push notifications and always-on immediacy of cell phones to poll participants with up-to-the-minute questions, and to receive up-to-the-minute responses.

The immediacy of MetricWire’s platform promises to improve response rates and to minimize research fatigue, all while offering data storage, setup and analytics that would normally cause considerable technical headaches for many research teams.

MetricWire cofounder and CEO Brian Stewart credits the improved penetration of smart phone devices for his startup’s existence.

“All of this infrastructure’s out there. Why not just take advantage of it?” he asked. “Why aren’t we doing this? The reason is that you have to program these things, and that’s expensive.”

Stewart explained that prior to MetricWire’s solution, researchers would have to hard-code their own surveys, potentially on institution-owned devices, like BlackBerry phones, which would go out on loan to survey participants. The cost of leveraging the technology was prohibitive, and would limit a study’s sample size.

“Researchers don’t like programming,” Stewart stated. “They like doing research. So we were able to solve that problem.”

MetricWire won the Velocity Venture Fund Finals in November 2013 after a mere two months of operation.