Wearable Devices and the Human Factors of Behavior Change
Over the past year, many companies, coaches and clinicians have contacted me at SyncStrength for help in making sense of new wearable technologies. The conversations focus mostly on activity trackers, typically beginning with “Which device is best for my (enter one of the following) athlete, team, aging parent, significant other, patient?” With a vast experience in health data analytics as a behavioral scientist and product manager, I am uniquely positioned to answer these questions and navigate the growing trend of health and fitness devices.
With dozens of devices to choose from (see picture above) which are the most likely to help users reach their health goals? In essence, this is really a question about which product will best integrate into daily life, influence current habits and create a lasting change in behavior. Through my experiences as a former college athlete, in clinical psychology and neuroscience, and professional work with iBELIEVE and SyncStrength, I have developed a deep understanding of the numerous mechanisms at work that ultimately create sustainable behavior change. But these wearable devices have opened a new frontier for behavior change including goal setting, feedback, social dynamics, and others. We put wearable’s on our bodies to make ourselves better, ushering in a new era for the potential for technology to enhance behavior change.
Over the next few weeks I will be evaluating which of the popular devices (listed below) has the most potential for long-term engagement. This is the first activity tracker review to focus exclusively on long-term product engagement using an understanding of the human factors of behavior change. I have chosen this particular lens of research, for I argue that success is most greatly defined by the degree to which these devices and services make a long-term impact on their users’ health and happiness. For mass adoption of these devices to occur, they will need more then just lifestyle integration, affordability and relevancy.
Over several blog posts, the key questions I will explore are:
- Which devices design becomes invisible to my lifestyle after one week?
- Which device promotes long-term, lasting sustainable behavior change?
- Which device surprises me with additional features and services?
- Which device is the most accurate in its collection of activity data?
- Why are these devices failing to achieve long-term utilization?
I’ve teamed up with Endeavor Partners and Barry’s Bootcamp to help me in this process. Endeavor Partners is a consulting boutique based in Cambridge, MA with deep expertise in mobile, digital business and technologies. I’ve co-authored a report, “How the Science of Human Behavior Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement,” with Endeavor Partners, please email me for more info. Barry’s Bootcamp is a boutique fitness studio that recently opened in downtown Boston. After attending the majority of Boston’s fitness centers over the past six years, Barry’s Bootcamp is far and away the best combination of intense interval cardiovascular training and strength training within a structured one-hour class session. This type of class structure is the ideal training type to test the durability, utility, experience and accuracy of these devices.
Devices to be tested:
Nike FuelBandSE (second edition)
3. Out of the Box Experience
6. User Experience
8. Lifestyle Compatibility
9. Overall Utility
10. Habit Formation
11. Social Motivation
12. Goal Reinforcement
(More detail regarding comparison criteria: visit here)