A DEVICE & APP SOLUTION THAT TRACKS HOW MUCH and WHEN a USer STands and Sits. CREATED FOR A PROJECT IN PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATICS AT THE GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY. THE FINAL TECHNOLOGY INCLUDES AN ARDUINO, BLE, ACCELEROMETER, AND NATIVE IOS APP.
STAND APP PROJECT
For my first semester in the MS-HCI program at Georgia Tech, I took CS 8803 - Health Informatics. The focus of the class was a semester long project in the personal health informatics space. At the time, I started having leg pain from sitting too much during the day. This personal pain point provided the inspiration for this project and shaped its goals & scope - how to accurately track & influence standing behavior patterns in office workers.
Skills iOS Development, Laser Cutting, Arduino, BLE Technology, Hardware Prototyping
I first started by exploring existing solutions. On the hardware side, I discovered that the Apple Watch tracks a metric called Standing Hours. This metric tracks any hour in the day that the user has stood up in - i.e. it's not actually tracking how long you are standing and sitting. The fitbit doesn't track standing and sitting time, but it's a feature that's being requested by the community. On the software side, I discovered a handful of apps: Stand Alarm (iOS), Varidesk (iOS), Stand (Mac), Stand Up! (iOS).
None of these solutions accurately tracked when a user was sitting or standing and thus, couldn't provide the detailed feedback that's needed to help users change their sitting/standing behavior.
To augment my personal exploration of this space, I contacted five sedentary behavior experts that actively research the impacts of sitting - Dr. Matthew Buman, Dr. John Buckley, Professor Stuart Biddle, and Professor Neville Owen. No existing solutions emerged from these conversations.
For this project, I had to design with both hardware and software constraints. On the hardware side, I needed to create a device that was small, easy to use, wearable, and had a long battery life. For the software, I had to create an app that connected to a microcontroller & transformed data captured into meaningful information for the user.
From conversations with experts, I gathered design constraints through two questions that I centered our discussions on:
- Are there any guidelines on the best frequency / duration combination of standing to get the maximum health benefits?
- What’s important to measure when designing an app to help users visualize their standing habits?
Parts of these conversations are captured in the final report above.
four. User Testing
Once I had a working prototype that had gone through some internal testing (personally & with the class), I brought the prototype to real-world working professionals that sit for a majority of the day. The following is a summary of these user testing sessions
4 Sessions Conducted with office workers.
3 Tasks Put on the device. Track two minutes of standing & sitting. Review yesterday's results.
Lots of usability issues discovered.
From this feedback, I made changes to the software and hardware to address the issues that came up. I added a visual indicator to the device (two arrows) and to the setup screens so that the user was able to setup the device in the correct orientation. I also found that users had trouble knowing exactly where to strap on the device - "should it go on the thigh or the calf?" In the session reviews after testing, one of the users suggested updates to the image used in the setup screens to show that the device goes on the outside of the thigh.
Below is the last iteration of the on-boarding process. The user testing influenced all of these screens. The "Strap on the Sensor" screen is currently the most confusing to users for issues talked about above.