Can Mobile Phones Help People 'EatWell?'
people know the rules of healthy eating, but most of us might eat a
little healthier if we were reminded. Now a researcher at Georgia Tech
is testing using a mobile phone to help community members steer
themselves away from that chocolate cake and toward the fruits and
wanted to make a system that was able to harness the community-held
expertise, not just bringing in outside expertise. With mobile phones,
I saw an opportunity to use technology to make that information even
more visible," said Andrea Grimes, Ph.D. candidate in the Georgia
Institute of Technology's College of Computing.
system, known as EatWell, uses mobile phones to record and share audio
stories with other members from their community. The idea is that
people working together can encourage each other with their stories of
how they've successfully overcome temptation in an effort to live a
Grimes conducted her pilot study with 12 participants from a working class background in Southwest Atlanta.
decided to create the system on a mobile platform because she knew it
was a pervasive device that is owned by people from all income levels.
She also knew that people could leave messages much faster than typing
into a desktop computer or into the mobile phone would allow.
talk about being engaged with the content in EatWell because they
actually hear the emotion in people's stories," Grimes said. "They
could hear the pride and excitement people felt when they tried a new
smoothie recipe, or when this guy talks about trying out the veggie
burger at Burger King and coming back later that day bringing his
said the research contained some surprising results. One was that
people reported they felt a connection to others in the study, even
though they didn't know the other participants and the transcriptions
contained very little in the way of statements of encouragement or talk
of collective action.
of the research says that for you to have a strong thriving community
there needs to be a lot of interaction between the community members.
But from our study, we saw that people felt a sense of community even
though there wasn't a lot of interaction," she said.
next project, Community Mosaic, involves getting people to take photos
of the different ways they are trying to eat healthy and caption them.
The photos and captions will be displayed on a big screen at a
interested in seeing how displaying the content in this way that's
publicly visible affects their interest in sharing. Will they want to
see their pictures and strategies on the board, or will they be less
likely to share out of fear of people judging them," said Grimes.
This research was presented at the Conference on Computer Supported Work.
For more information on the Georgia Institute of Technology, visit www.gatech.edu.