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28 Hours of RxPact, a Social Reminders App for Medication Adherence

30 Sep

I showed up a couple days early for the Health 2.0 Code-a-thon last weekend and went to the code-a-thon, where we were supposed to go from idea to team formation to development to demo in 28 hours, competing for $13K in prize money.

My team, composed of people who previously knew each other little or not at all, made an app with social reminders and social rewards for remembering to take your medications on time. We won the $3K Novartis prizeContinue reading

Tracking and Sharing Moods With My Wife (Part I)

19 Sep

Inspired by others’ experiences reported in my last post, my wife and I want to try tracking and sharing our moods for a while. I’ve now spent spent several hours searching and evaluating the many different apps out there. Surprisingly, I haven’t found anything that will do it.

Here were the features I was looking for, and where various otherwise promising apps seemed to fall flat:

  • Very simple to record a mood, with optional text note, on iPhones. MoodScope, for example, has no iPhone app, and while the card metaphor for recording a score on each of several dimensions makes for a beautiful interface, it takes a long time to record a mood.
  • Ability to share with my wife, any only my wife, the updates I post. The simplest way, I think, would be to post them to Facebook, and then configure Facebook privacy settings to only share posts from that app with her. The only app I found that came close to offering this was MoodPanda, but in order to share with anyone on Facebook, I had to shared with everyone on MoodPanda. One app, from Track & Share, let’s you email a CSV of your data to anyone. Most apps had no export at all. I was surprised not to find “share with buddies” or at least “share with caregiver” or “share with lifecoach” as a common feature. If anyone works for any of the companies that have developed these apps, I’m curious whether this is just a low priority feature, or whether it was a deliberate design decision.
  • Alerts at random times to prompt input (like in Experience Sampling.) One app, GottaFeeling, sends four random reminders per day, but the number and time weren’t configurable, and it didn’t meet my other needs above. The Harvard University research project, Track Your Happiness, uses experience sampling (it sends you text messages or emails at random times) but doesn’t seem to have the sharing facility.

So, at least for now, here’s our plan:

  • We set up two new twitter accounts that are not publicly followable and that follow each other.
  • We agree on a very simple micro-format: each tweet begins with a number from 1-10, and then a space, and then any text or pics or links we want.
  • I’ll write a program that harvests the data and puts it into nice graphs for us occasionally.
  • I’m not sure what I’ll do about the alerts at random times. I couldn’t find an iPhone app that does that. If I had a Mac and wanted to learn iPhone programming, I suppose it would be a simple task to create one, but I don’t think I’m going there. Perhaps write a program that sends SMS messages at random times? Looks like there are cloud services that will send out SMS messages for you at a very low price (e.g., Twilio).

Stay Hydrated, My Friend

16 Sep

In a paper at the 2009 Ubicomp conference, Hao-Hua Chu and his students and colleagues presented results of a trial of a system that encourages people to drink more water. They built a tracker that sensed water consumption from a special bottle.

Some subjects got an individual feedback app. When they drank enough, their tree avatar was healthy; when they didn’t, it lost its leaves.

Five subjects got a version with two social features:

  1. They could see small representations of the other four users’ tree avatars
  2. They could send reminders to other users (in the form of heart icons, suggesting “I care about you, so drink!”)

Continue reading