The world is becoming increasingly sensitive about how much data is shared and stored by companies. That’s what makes taxi-hailing company Uber’s decision to disclose the depth of its information all the more interesting, including the fact that it knows your phone battery percentage.
Talking to NPR’s Hidden Brain, the company’s head of economic research Keith Chen said the amount of battery users had left was “one of the strongest predictors of whether or not you are going to be sensitive to surge” – essentially, agreeing to pay 1.5 times, 2 times or more the normal cost of a journey.
“When your phone is down to 5% battery and that little icon on the iPhone turns red, people start saying I‘d better get home or I don‘t know how I‘m going to get home otherwise,” he explained.
Uber knows whether a user is on low battery because the app needs to use that information to go into power-saving mode.
However, according to Chen, the company doesn’t take advantage of the information and charge more when you’re at your most battery vulnerable.
“We absolutely don‘t use that to push you a higher surge price,” Chen stated. “But it is an interesting psychological fact of human behaviour.”
Whether you buy Chen’s sole interest in the field of behavioural psychology is your choice to make, but we suggest making sure your phone is relatively juiced when Ubering just to make sure.