UbiFit is a mobile, persuasive technology (developed before the iPhone or Android were available) that encouraged people to self-monitor their physical activity and incorporate regular and varied activity into everyday life. It consisted of three main components:
a glanceable display,
an interactive smartphone application, and
a fitness device.
The glanceable display used a stylized, aesthetic representation of physical activities and goal attainment (e.g., a garden) to keep the person focused on the act of self-monitoring and their commitment to fitness. It resided on the background screen of the person's mobile phone to provide a subtle but persistent and easily accessible reminder whenever and wherever their phone was used.
The interactive application, which also resided on the mobile phone, included detailed information about the person's physical activities and a journal in which activities could be added, edited, and deleted.
Finally, the fitness device (a separate device worn on the waistband above the hip, like a pedometer — this was before FitBit), automatically inferred and transmitted information about several types of activities — walking, running, cycling, use of the elliptical trainer, and use of the stair machine — to the glanceable display and interactive application.
UbiFit was evaluated with a survey involving respondents from 13 states across the U.S., followed by a 3-week field trial, and finally a 3-month field experiment that was conducted over the Winter 2007/8 holiday season. Among our key findings was that participants in the 3-month field experiment who had the glanceable display maintained their physical activity level over time and on holiday weeks, while the level of physical activity for participants who did not have the glanceable display dropped significantly.
UbiFit's Glanceable Display
The garden version of UbiFit's glanceable display bloomed on the wallpaper of the person's mobile phone as they performed physical activities.
Different types of flowers represented different types of activities--cardiovascular training, flexibility, strength, and walking. Butterflies indicated goal attainment.
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