Planning on gobbling a few extra treats this holiday season? Soon, your cell phone may be able to help you maintain your exercise routine and keep the pounds off over winter months, without your having to lift a finger to keep track.
Researchers at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone's background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.
The applications are designed to change people's behavior for the better, said Sunny Consolvo, a recently graduated UW Information School doctoral student and one of UbiFit's creators. In a three-month field experiment, people using UbiFit with the background display kept up their workout routines over the winter holidays, a period when people typically slack off on exercise, while people without the display let their regimen slide.
UbiFit and UbiGreen are part of a larger project at the UW to use mobile computing in everyday activities and long-term goals such as fitness, said project leader James Landay, UW computer science and engineering associate professor. "You can't get fit in a short period of time in one place," he said. "It happens long-term, in many different places and ways."
Current versions of UbiFit and UbiGreen use an external sensing device (the Intel Mobile Sensing Platform) clipped to the user's waist. The device includes an accelerometer to sense the user's movement. The programs could run on phones with built-in accelerometers, such as the iPhone and the new Android G1, with no need for external equipment, Landay said. UbiGreen also relies on changing cell phone tower signals to determine whether a person is taking a trip.
The sensing device determines what the user is doing based on how it gets jiggled around, Landay said -- the localized motion at your waist will be different if you're walking, jogging, or sitting in a car. The sensing device sends signals three times per second via Bluetooth to the cell phone, where the application averages these rapid signals and translates them into, for example, a 20-minute jog or a drive to work.
UbiFit displays an empty lawn at the beginning of the week, and flowers grow as the user works out during the week. Different kinds of workouts yield different colored flowers. Users set weekly workout goals and are rewarded with a butterfly when the goal is met. Users can also enter workout information manually if the sensor made a mistake, they forgot to wear it, or they did an activity that the sensor does not detect.
This background display proved motivational, said Consolvo, who is a researcher at Intel Research Seattle. She ran a field study from November 2007 through January 2008, with 28 participants. The results were presented at the UbiComp conference in Seoul in September. In her study, participants using the UbiFit background screen maintained their workout activity through the holiday months, while people using a version of UbiFit without the display let their workouts slide.
"The background display was definitely one of the biggest wins of our study," Consolvo said.
The design of UbiGreen was inspired by UbiFit, Landay said. The project was presented Nov. 18 at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference in Sacramento, Calif.
UbiGreen automatically logs a trip that involves walking, running or biking using accelerometer data, and uses cell phone tower signals to determine if someone is riding in a vehicle. A quick survey pops up at the end of the trip and the user chooses car, carpool, bus or train. Eventually, the application could be programmed to glean almost all this information just from the accelerometer, Landay said, because the movements of cars, buses and trains are very different from each other.
UbiGreen displays a tree on the cell phone's background that grows leaves, flowers, then fruit as the user makes green choices. Icons light up when a choice saves money, incorporates exercise, or allows the user to multi-task. A green bar and number also display how many pounds of carbon dioxide each trip saves compared to a car ride.
UbiFit and UbiGreen could be released to the public within the next year or two, Landay said, especially as phones with built-in accelerometers become more common.
"The last 30 years of personal computing has been in support of people sitting at their desks," Landay said, "but the next wave will be these little computers that are with us all the time and have an understanding of our context in the physical world."
Intel helped fund these projects. Other researchers involved in UbiFit and UbiGreen are Jon Froehlich, UW computer science and engineering doctoral student, Pedja Klasjna, doctoral student in UW's Information School, Jennifer Mankoff, computer science associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Tawanna Dillahunt, Carnegie Mellon University human-computer interaction doctoral student, and Beverly Harrison, researcher at Intel Research Seattle.
For more information, contact Landay at 206-685-9139 or email@example.com, or Consolvo at 206-545-2529 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about UbiFit at http://dub.washington.edu/projects/ubifit and UbiGreen at http://dub.washington.edu/projects/ubigreen.
Pictures available at http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=45276.
Rachel Tompa | Newswise Science News
New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich
NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine
12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine