Twelve considerations to make when designing for activity tracking


Cross country skiing, Table Mountains, Poland. Szymon Nitka – CC:BY-NC-SA.

Many people use apps to track their everyday activities. These apps collect data about what we do, but they aren’t very intelligent when it comes to doing things with the data – or making recommendations of what we should do. In a recent paper, Fredrik Ohlin and Carl Magnus Olsson argue that if we want a richer understanding of the data, we need intelligent computing to be included in the systems that run the apps.

The standard activity-tracking apps present data in statistical form meant to be viewed after the activity has ended. But, what if these services could give more advanced support to the user? Perhaps giving recommendations based on your activity history? Ohlin and Olsson present twelve considerations you should make when integrating intelligent computing in the design of so-called personal informatics systems. They also apply these considerations to an existing activity-tracking app to illustrate how these can bring out new design directions.

A few of the design considerations to make are:

– Explore framings of personal informatics as cooperation between human and computing system.

– Consider conceptual designs which shift the focus of behavior change to a joint human-system effort.

– Evaluate when and how the computing system should to be available to the human, and focus on interaction technologies accordingly.

The paper Intelligent Computing in Personal Informatics: Key Design Considerations was presented at the 20th ACM Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces.

How intelligence embedded in the devices can improve the usability and functionality of IoT services and products is explored in the Embedded Intelligence research area at IOTAP. It is also explored in the Context-awareness in Consumer IoT Technologies project.

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