Physical Activity Coach-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Physical Activity Coach

There are many barriers that prevent people from incorporating physical activity into their daily lives, including lack of time, skill, and social support. Existing physical activity devices and systems, such as pedometers, are not sufficient to help people circumvent these barriers, because they focus on the amount of physical activities that users perform and not on the behaviors that lead to those performance numbers.

The focus for the Activity Coach is encouraging sedentary individuals who are trying to find ways to be physically active within their daily lives. This is accomplished by

  1. Helping users identify and increase awareness of opportunities for physical activity
  2. Using real-time information and reflection to improve awareness of opportunities

Initially we conducted interviews with people who have lost and/or are trying to lose weight. First, there are opportunities to increase physical activity within one’s daily life. All participants preferred physical activities that could be easily integrated into their existing lifestyles. Second, people focus on numbers instead of the behaviors that lead to those numbers. The results of interviews were design guidelines for the physical activity system:

  1. Discover opportunities for physical activity that can be performed within people’s daily lives
  2. Associate physical activity numbers with the behaviors or contextual information that lead to those numbers
  3. Use technology to lift the burden of monitoring and facilitate association of physical activity with contextual information.

Project Team

  • Anind Dey
  • Jodi Forlizzi
  • Ian Li

Wheelchair propulsion & arm ergometer exercise

Physical Activity Coach graphic
(Activity monitor indicated with blue circle)