Fitbit yourself

Looking at the emerging technologies, such as Ambient tech and Quantified self leads me to a question of how we can make these applicable to the daily struggles and problems? Through an experimental project I looked into it, and discovered some interesting insights.

WHAT DID I DO: Research⎜Ideation⎜Concept development⎜Rapid prototyping ⎜User testing

How can we create a healthier and as a result more efficient workplace tapping using concepts of Ambient Tech and Quantified Self? The challenge is to push those working in the office setting to do minor physical activities throughout an office day. Together with my classmates Joe Sen and Meera Adhia we explored solutions to the problem.
Ambient technology solutions are present in the market already. Most of them are too technological and so quite expensive. We assumed that's why companies do not adopt the practices yet. Is there a way to create a cheaper solution?
We found a few research documents put together by World Health organisation. We discovered a few leads to help us navigate in the project. Amongst them the fact that physical inactivity leads to 3.2 million deaths globally every year.
A research study by Ronald Loeppke - "Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: A Multiemployer Study" - lead to an AHA moment. He studied health costs of employees linking it to their productivity levels. One of the findings was that healthier people have higher productivity levels. He then draws a conclusion that keeping up with ones health is cheaper then expenses to fix ones health and consequences of it. And that in the end of the day, poor health leads to lower productivity to even more expenses.
Seems like companies are realising the health/productivity equation. There is a collaborative project between IDEO and FitBit. Or BP's million steps challenge. Even standing desks Vs sitting desks is a solid step towards caring for your employees. Solutions that are following a small step principal are more successful in the area of health preventive techniques.
We started thinking what technology is accessible aka does not cost a fortune. Also whether it would make sense to use in the office environment. The next day day Joe brought his FitBit. Looking though the school's storage room, we found Philipps Hue bulbs. The match made in heaven right here!

Hue bulbs are able to reproduce the whole color spectrum based off an input. But what colors we want it it show? We read up found a Circadian Rhythm theory. A study on how colors around you affect your mood, productivity and behaviours. I have experienced it in Europe in February... I know, #WhitePeopleProblems.

The idea was to synch Hue and FitBit for an ambient experience/ visual signal. The bulb would light up in an appropriate color via hacking into FitBit's most recent data. Signals from tracker is not enough, people might just ignore it. Yet when there is a visual signal right there on your table top it is harder to ignore. Plus there is a big social factor to it.
attempt #1
Luckily FitBit has an open API. Sadly, we are not engineers. So we used IFTTT application to synch up the devices. But we could not extract the exact API call we wanted ("inactive_time" and "minutesSedentary") and there was an 8 minute lag.
attempt #2
We reached out for help. But we did not have enough budget for it. Integrating a prototype application with an API was estimated to take up to 10-12 hours pf work, with a rate of US$20 per man-hour.
attempt #3
Hence we had to come up with another way to showcase the solution. Prototyping was still an option that we all agreed on. We set up a cubicle space, assembled IKEA table lamps (#DontRepeat), and had Joe to manually adjust lights. Check out the final presentation.
after thoughts
Exploring new technology in application to something specific is tough. It has to be practical and not intrusive. We have to think of the end user. The solution we came up with is bold, and we agree it needs improvements. Feedback we received was that we could have experimented with other solutions more. To some extent I agree as our solution is prone to data privacy issues, yet I am happy with the MVP, I think it has potential.
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