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Running Together, At Different Paces

9 May

Florian Mueller and colleagues from Australia presented an interesting paper at the CHI conference¬†titled, “Balancing Exertion Experiences.”

They had previously developed and reported on a system that lets people jog “together” though physically separated (even England to Australia!) They can talk with each other, but the sound is spatially located, so it sounds like your running partner is to your left (or right) and ahead of you or behind you. If they’re getting ahead of you, it can spur you to speed up, or slow down if they’re behind you.

Now they’ve gone for a “better than being there” experience. If your running pace is different than your partner’s, they can still have you run together. Instead of balancing your speed in order to stay next to your partner, you have to balance some other metric of exertion. In their version, each person picks their own maximum target heart rate, and you have to match the percentage of personal target in order to stay aurally next to your partner while jogging.

Pretty goal. Current prototypes use a little too much hardware for comfortable jogging, but I expect something like this will be available for iPhones some time.

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Roles for Other People in Self-Regulation

24 Oct

Self-regulation theories describe how people regulate the setting and pursuit of goals. In the realm of health behavior change, it is a useful lens for understanding what happens after someone is motivated, say, to lose weight. How can they structure a program that will actually lead to weight loss? This post examines the key elements of the theory and then considers how other people can enhance self-regulation processes. Continue reading

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!”)

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Social Game Helps Elders Take Pills On Time

15 Sep

Researchers Rodrigo de Oliveira, Mauro Cherubini,  and Nuria Oliver, at Telefonica, in Spain, developed a mobile phone app that tries to make it more engaging to try to take your medications on time. They tested it with 18 elders. It worked!

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