Introduction: Who Should Use Brass, What is the Difference Between Brass and Other Tools, How does it Work?
Brass is an app for researchers and journalists who need to rapidly collect and analyse data about the people nearby. Brass uses the microphone in your phone to listen for a variety of noises, then displays what it hears on a map in the app. Once it has been configured by the user, Brass listens for passing cars, buses, and trains and displays their rate of speed in your neighbourhood. Its simple to use interface lets you zoom in on a particular area to track a moving vehicle over time. In addition to traffic when mounted on a bicycle, Brass can also be mounted on a wheelchair or car, enabling the user to follow public transport buses and trams that might have been missed with your own vehicle.
The User Interface System of Brass
Once you’ve launched the app it will start listening immediately. When there is no traffic detected it will show a map that is greyed out. As soon as a vehicle passes within range the icon of that vehicle will appear on the map and its direction of travel will be indicated as blue or green depending on which way it is moving. The icon will indicate “fastest” (“green”) when all the vehicles passing in that direction are going faster than you and “slowest” (“blue”) if they are going slower than you. For example, in San Francisco the symbol for a train would be a triangle facing left. If there were two trains moving in different directions the icon would face right, not left.
“Note: There are some cases where the map will not be displayed or it may display a blank map. If this occurs, please open the “help” file and consult your user manual.”
The major mode of operation of the app is within a car. When you start the app the “Map” tab will appear on your screen. This is where you decide what to see and where to go by placing markers (or tags) anywhere on the map. All routes that you draw will be saved and will also be named “RouteName”.
The top left of your screen will contain a magnifying glass, a compass and several tools to help draw lines that are straight, true and circular. The bottom right will contain the status of the compass (whether it is north, south or east) and an icon which is either the icon for a car or a lock. This icon indicates whether or not you have GPS i.e., whether there is traffic passing within range. The “Map” page has these options:
Brass on iOS vs. Android Platforms
The Android version of Brass will also display the icon for the first 2-3 seconds after you launch the app, so if you launch it quickly in the morning it could be very useful for getting a sense of what traffic is like. Other than that, you can use Brass on iOS or Android just as easily.
After our move to adopt the Android store as our primary source of revenue, we’ve got  5-star ratings from 1,247 users in under a month. The vast majority of them are on iOS, but this number is growing everyday and I expect it to continue for the foreseeable future. We’ll be expanding to other countries in the coming weeks.
We’re also very happy with how Brass has been received by each of its launch communities, especially New York City .
While many people may have thought it was a flippant decision to launch on Android first, I think the opposite is true. While we had been developing Brass for iOS, we’ve always known that our primary audience for Brass would be in NYC. We already have a lot of users in NYC who are very knowledgeable about traffic, and we expect to see increased usage as more people continue to use Brass in NYC.
Launch Marketing Campaign
Brass on Windows Phone & BlackBerry 10 Platforms
As of November 2013, the app is not available for purchase on Windows Phone or Blackberry 10. This is due to the need to build a custom version of Brass for each platform and our limited resources. During July 2014, Uppsala University and the Swedish Red Cross have signed a collaboration agreement regarding the development of an emergency app for both Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 devices.
The emergency work is financed by the Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Management at Uppsala University, which has received support by Stockholm County Council through an EU-project. The Swedish Red Cross is responsible for the development, while Uppsala University will be responsible for testing and evaluation of the final product.
As soon as the app is available for purchase, we will announce it here.
For people who have already purchased the Windows Phone version of Brass, it is possible to migrate over to the Blackberry 10 version at no cost. To do this, you should uninstall the Windows Phone version from your device and then re-install the Blackberry 10 version.
Conclusion & Wrap Up
Brass will help you in your research and writing projects by providing information that can’t be found anywhere else. There is a free version of the app available with limited functionality and you can upgrade to the full version with all options, including mountable hardware, at any time. More details are available online. – David Oliver, Uppsala University, Sweden
Brass will definitely save time for researchers and students and helps to collect information in a structured way. My former boss, who is also an active user of Brass, will be very happy about it! – Dr. Florian Stoehr, Robert Koch Institute, Germany
Brass has proven to be a reliable tool for many research projects within our department at Uppsala University. The use of the app is only limited by your own creativity. – Anette Mattson, Uppsala University, Sweden