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Thomas Greiner
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University Project Detected

Chrome Extension
I saw this Google Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store's trending section and noticed that it requests access to projects.hci.simtech.uni-stuttgart.de which is the website of a german university.

The extension itself doesn't do much except from what you'd expect it to do. And also visiting the above mentioned website doesn't reveal much apart from the text "This is projects.hcilab.org." (which - according to the page's last-modified header - was last modified on Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:09:13 GMT) So let's move on…

Android App
However, the extension requires the installation of an Android app. The only permission it asks for is the commonly used "Full Network Access" permission:

In the app it tells the user that it requires desktop notifications to be turned on. If you try to do that Android wants you to confirm your decision and warns: "Desktop Notifications can collect all of the text you type, except passwords. This includes personal data such as credit card numbers. It can also collect data about your interactions with the phone."

The URL contains the ID of this app (org.hcilab.projects.notification) which led me to www.hcilab.org the homepage for the Human Computer Interaction Group.

Conclusion
Given that the semester is almost over it could've just been a one-semester students' project that tries to make something useful for all Chrome+Android users out there. Not having analyzed the behavior of the app, it could also be a multi-semester project which tries to find out more about how we interact with computers (smartphones and tablets are also computers)

Hopefully, the latter one is true and they'll come out with some exciting stats for all of us, though the first one seems more likely given that they had a course that focused on "the effective development of user-friendly human-computer-interfaces".

#Android #Chrome #extension #university
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