A researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands has developed a smartphone-based activity tracker and coach that is sensitive enough to realize how an individual best responds to encouragement.
Harm op den Akker tested the new system for three months among a group of COPD patients. Using the coaching system, the patients carry a small movement sensor and a smartphone. The system calculates if it is advisable to take a rest or, on the other hand, have a walk. The system looks at the time of day, the weather, the surroundings of the patient and determines if the time is right for taking some exercise.
In addition, the system knows how the patient wants to be addressed. Some people dont mind an imperative tone of voice, while others prefer a more friendly tone of advice. Op den Akker designed learning algorithms for this: the system learns the preferences of the user by itself. Future versions of the system may not use text messages anymore, but an avatar on the screen, enabling interaction with the user as well. For this, Op den Akker has started working with the Human Media Interaction group of the University of Twente.
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