Track Your Fitness With New Cell Phone Applications
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.
at the University of Washington (UW) and Intel have created a new
cell phone application, dubbed UbiFit, to automatically track
workouts. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone's
background screen that change the more the user works out.
application is 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.
is 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 version of UbiFit uses 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
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.
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.
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. 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.
background display was definitely one of the biggest wins of our
study," Consolvo said.
could be released to the public within the next year or two, Landay
said, especially as phones with built-in accelerometers become more
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."
helped fund these projects.
more about UbiFit at http://dub.washington.edu/projects/ubifit