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Better visualizing of fitness-app data helps discover trends, reach goals
Date:7/8/2014

Smartphone apps can track where we eat our meals, when we commute to and from work and how many minutes we exercise each day. Ten thousand steps today? Check.

More people are opting to use their phones as "life-logging" devices, but is the data they collect actually useful? Massive amounts of information showing your life patterns over a week, month or year are going untapped because these applications don't have a way to interpret the data over the long term.

University of Washington researchers have developed visual tools to help self-trackers understand their daily activity patterns over a longer period and in more detail than current life-logging programs can offer. Their study found that people generally had an easier time meeting personal fitness and activity goals when they could see their data presented in a broader, more visual way.

"Personal activity tracking is getting more robust and there are more applications to choose from, but people often don't get any value from their data, because you can't see it displayed over time or in a larger context," said James Fogarty, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering.

"We think visualizations like these are the future of how people will look back at their own data to find meaningful or actionable information."

The research team presented its findings in June at the Association for Computing Machinery's conference on Designing Interactive Systems in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Smartphone life-logging applications such as "Moves" and "Saga" that passively record location and physical activity are becoming more popular, as are other tracking tools like "FitBit," "FourSquare," "MyFitnessPal" and "SleepCycle." But while these programs are useful for tracking day-to-day workouts or activities, there isn't a way to help people pinpoint why they behave the way they do or what, specifically, they might do differently to meet their goals.'/>"/>

Contact: Michelle Ma
mcma@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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