Opower started the trend: Tell people how their energy consumption compares to their neighbors’, and watch them start to conserve electricity in order to move closer to the norm. After Opower showed initial results suggesting that social data can influence utility usage, other approaches to the issue gained momentum. In addition to direct competitors in the energy management space, devices like the Nest thermostat leverage technology to help people save money and power. While I’ve read a lot about these sorts of solutions (and lusted after a smart thermostat of my own), only recently have I been able to experience one firsthand. Continue reading Eversource’s Energy Management Program: Strengths and Opportunities
First, a confession: This series of concurrent research findings was surfaced in the most recent issue of the Klick Wire, a weekly mHealth newsletter. That said, the conclusion that Klick drew from these separate news stories–that the most effective behavior change coaching is personal–is one that I have long believed in, and one that formed the basis of the digital health coaching product I worked on when I was with HealthMedia/J&J. Certainly the goals and purpose of behavior change coaching need to be personal for it to be effective. Other personal details–like extending the coaching beyond purely health-related issues–can also help. And now a series of new findings suggests even more importance for personalizing health behavior. Continue reading The Best Coaching is Personal
A few months ago, I spoke with Shape.com about a phenomenon they dubbed “streaking.” Streaking refers to performing a specific health-related behavior every day for a certain period of time (a week, a month, a year). As an example, Runner’s World facilitates season-based run streaks including social media posts and badges that can be shared on one’s profile. I’ve also seen people commit to some type of exercise every day for a month, often during January or February when New Year’s resolutions abound. Continue reading My First Streaking Experience
As I’ve discussed before, I use a Fitbit One to track my daily steps. I’ve owned it almost a full year and am surprised to find it still helps me determine whether I’ve met a minimum movement threshold for the day. I think I walk more because I have it, and I’m still gratified to see a high step total for the day (especially on long run days!).
The one thing I don’t use my Fitbit for is the actual reason I bought it: To understand my sleep. Continue reading How Do You Choose the Right Fitness Technology for You?
Good news: It exists.
Even better, it’s not only helped people improve their athletic performance, it’s also helped them lose weight and become healthier.
So what is this magic weapon? Continue reading A Simple Secret to Improve Your Running (Or Anything Else)
Startup incubator RockHealth (which, incidentally, I think is an incredible organization) recently published a report on wearable sensors that’s grabbed a lot of attention in the health-tech community. The report contrasts the current state of wearables–a market focused only on certain aspects of trackable data, with three major players dominating 97% of the market, and many users becoming disengaged within months of purchasing a tracker–with a bullish future, as judged by the huge financial and human capital investments in the space.
RockHealth identifies three areas where wearable sensors need to improve before they will achieve their potential: Continue reading Why I’ll Abandon My Fitbit (Eventually)
I wasn’t part of the core team that launched Track Your Health, but part of my role is making sure we maximize the value of this new tool to deliver meaningful, motivational coaching. I see so much possibility in helping people to really understand the impact of their small behaviors on their larger health and happiness.
I thought it might be nice to share why behavioral feedback is so much on my mind these days. I’d love to hear about your experiences with tracking and how an app might add new value for you beyond what is already out there.
One of the key tactics to support user competence through technology is providing feedback on performance. Ideally, the feedback does a few things:
- Acknowledges success or improvement in order to build self-efficacy
- Provides clues or instruction on how to improve
- Arrives in a timely fashion so people have a chance to actually use the feedback
You can think about feedback at a couple of different levels. There’s immediate feedback that’s tied directly to a person’s granular behaviors. An example would be an error message when a person selects an inadequate password (which, if it’s a good error message, also provides feedback on what the user should change to make the password appropriate). I call this level of feedback “proximal.”
A second level of feedback is what I like to call “distal.” This is the 10,000 foot view of the user’s performance within an ecosystem. How is the user performing over time? Examples of distal feedback include point totals or leveling up over time. On the beer app Untappd, distal feedback takes the form of badges that show how frequently and broadly a person drinks from various beer categories (I’m most accomplished in the IPA category). Continue reading The Value of Feedback at Multiple Levels
OK, I chose the post title just to be alarmist. I don’t really think that wearable and integrated trackers (for example, to count your daily steps) rise to the level of Big Brother. At least, not yet.
I recently posted an entry on Wired Innovation Insights about wearable vs. integrated trackers:
There’s been buzz lately with more device-based trackers like Move and Runkeeper’s Breeze that the wearable might be Continue reading Big Brother’s in Your Pocket!
After the Boston Marathon on Monday, the New York Times has a thought provoking analysis of marathon finish times. Theoretically, marathon finish times should be relatively evenly distributed around a mean. In particular, there’s no real reason why, say, a 3:29 finish should be more common than a 3:31. But it is.
I don’t think this clustering is really that weird. I think it’s a natural function of our common need for competence, and the way we use benchmarks and progress tracking to achieve goals. Continue reading The Power of Goals and Progress Tracking