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

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The UW team wants to anticipate what people want and need from these tools, and develop ways to provide them with insights into their behavior and factors that affect it.

"This is about learning how people want to engage with their data," said Sean Munson, an assistant professor of human centered design and engineering. "We really wanted to target a much more casual audience with this study because these tools are becoming much more common."

For the study, 14 West Coast participants ages 23 to 66 used the "Moves" application recently acquired by Facebook on their smartphones for one month last summer, passively recording types of activities and locations visited. During the month, the researchers interviewed participants several times about their preferences and ease of use.

Afterward, the researchers sliced into the data generated by each person to pull out "cuts," or subsets, to help participants explore their data and discover trends. Examples are the type of transportation chosen based on trip distance, or the average work commute time based on the weather that day.

They then displayed these relationships through a series of visualizations, including graphs, tables and maps.

All of the participants found the information to be more helpful in achieving fitness and activity goals than if they simply used the smartphone app.

"Discovery about your patterns and habits happens when you see something you weren't expecting to see," said Daniel Epstein, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. "Some participants already had an intuition about patterns in their lives, but it hit home for them when we started showing the supporting data to them in a visual way."

For example, one participant realized that if a destination was more than 3 miles away, she usually opted to drive instead of walk. Another realized that Tuesdays were by far his most active day of the week, prompting him to thin
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Contact: Michelle Ma
mcma@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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