12/17/2010 12:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Using Technology to Encourage Health And Wellness

I have a fantastic job. I use non-traditional computing technologies -- such as computing that we carry around with us like mobile phones or computing that's embedded in our environment -- to help improve people's lives, while respecting their privacy. I get to try out risky ideas that may seem goofy at first, for example, blooming a garden on the background screen of a person's mobile phone to encourage physical activity. I also get to work with top-notch researchers from industry and academia in an informal environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

For the past several years, my focus has been on developing persuasive technologies to encourage health and wellness. In the project mentioned above -- which we call UbiFit -- we use on-body sensing, real-time statistical modeling, and a personal, mobile display to encourage people to participate in regular and varied physical activity. Two key components of the UbiFit system are its glanceable display and fitness device. The glanceable display uses a non-literal, aesthetic representation of physical activity and goal attainment -- in our case, a garden that blooms as the person performs physical activities throughout the week. The glanceable display resides on the wallpaper of the person's mobile phone to provide a subtle reminder whenever and wherever the phone is used. She can journal her activities in the UbiFit application on the phone, or she can wear the fitness device to automatically infer and communicate information about several types of physical activities -- walking, running, cycling, using the elliptical trainer, and using the stair machine -- to the UbiFit application.

UbiFit was developed in collaboration with researchers from a variety of backgrounds. For example, human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers -- which is what I am -- created the user experience, including specifying the user interface and designing and conducting the user studies; graphic designers created the images used in the glanceable display; software developers built the UbiFit application; industrial designers created the case for the fitness device; sensor and hardware experts designed and crafted the fitness device; and machine learning researchers trained the fitness device to detect activities. We also worked with concepts from psychology, including self-monitoring, priming, and goal-setting, to design UbiFit.

My next major effort is focusing on using technology to encourage healthy sleep practices, and I am again working with a multi-disciplinary team including experts in the areas of health sciences, HCI, machine learning, hardware and software development, systems and networking, computer security, and design.

The technology that people at Intel create continually challenges the concept of what's possible. I'm excited about being part of that.