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CoachME

A Platform to Promote Healthy Lifestyle

Towards an easier, more effective healthy lifestyle ...

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Long-term Adherence

Difficulty in

Sustaining User Engagement

Long-term Adherence
User Preferences

Differences in

lifestyle Choices

User Preferences
User Heterogeneity

Diversity in

User's Habits and Preferences

User Heterogeneity

CoachMe: A Platform to Promote Healthy Lifestyle

Introducing simplicity and human-actor in the process of lifestyle promotion

Tailored Approaches

Provide an activity that fits with user's needs

Simplicity

Introduce an activity as simple as a button click

Expert Support

On top of the simplicity, provide the user with a real coach support

Why CoachMe?

Various health risk factors are correlated to poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle relies on modifiable behaviors that help prevent a wide range of diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. Such diseases present economical and health burden for the society, as its complications can be life-threatening. The purpose of the proposed investigation is to test whether ICT systems are effective in maintaining user adherence to a healthy lifestyle and prevent the escalation and shift from healthy to at-risk stage. We focus on providing users with initial action, then try to maintain it. In summary, help the user to help himself.

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The Objectives

We focus on providing users with initial action, then try to maintain it. For that, instead of relying on system recommendations, we introduce a human-expert in the process to tune the activity when relevant. This will introduce simplicity in user-system interaction, since it focuses on simple activities and follows "is able to do?" instead of "have to do!" approach. We introduce a new interaction paradigm where user-coach interact through the console. Based on common paradigm the coach provides standard personalised model specific for each user. Moreover, a human actor is more effective in overcoming limitations introduced by automation and recommendation systems, since a human can better react to more complex user needs and handle their emotions, that is hard to achieve with system automation. In addition, the research focuses on addressing user heterogeneity problem in diet management and investigates a tailored approach per user and a way to maintain the user coach relation.

The Scope

This research addresses user heterogeneity and hybrid system challenges which often fail to react to user needs. Based on the literature research, there is a need for a real coach, especially when dealing with a sensitive issue, such as diet management. Since a human actor can provide more precise emotional and health support and better understand user struggle. Virtual coaches are effective in providing training sessions, however, they are unable to provide social support that a real coach can. In addition, real coaches are flexible when dealing with various users. More specifically, they can change the level of communication with people of different level of preparedness, preferences and ages. In summary, unlike automated systems, real coaches can communicate the language of the user.

The Methodology

This research focuses on designing for long-term feedback and engagement with the system. Moreover, It takes an approach to involve users in their own health through quantiffed-self techniques. There is a need to consider user's lifestyle and the role of technology in their life. Also, consider personalisation in the diet management process. To illustrate, asking users to record the food they don't like to avoid recommending them. The methodology focuses on simplicity and positive reinforcement for future activities. The coach feedback is given by a health expert who accesses and monitors user activities through a dashboard that contains user compliance data.

Research

The approach in CoachMe is based on providing the user with small activities and short-term plans, such that they are simple to perform and sustainable. The activity intensity increase as user progresses. The set of diet activities form a goal, and set of goals form a goal hierarchy which, in turn, forms the overall diet management plan. Our approach is based on research in user experience (UX) design, gamification in user motivation, persuasive technologies, and introducing a human actor in the process.

Gamification

Treating uses as a massive group is a bad design strategy and has its associated weaknesses related to decreased engagement with the application. Employing game elements is an effective strategy to overcome these challenges, since it stimulates user engagement in the activity. However, carefully choosing the proper game element is essential, since otherwise it might leads to adverse reaction and increase the adoption of unhealthy behavior.

Persuasive Technologies

Current persuasive systems are still limited in sustaining user behavior. Hybrid systems (technology + self coaching) often fail to provide social support and understanding user needs. We hypothesis a human actor can provide more than just a general feedback and encouragement. Having a human expert in the activity is essential to build social support and empathy with the user.

Quantified-Self

Involving users in their care through quantified-self techniques and a human actor to monitor and intervene when necessary will form a healthcare community with individuals to empower them in a user friendly way, such that they achieve a better diet and promote their lifestyle. Moreover, most of the approaches rely on system recommendation to adhere user to a self-management plan, which often fails to respond to user’s need and to sustain the activity.

Social Network

The literature reveals user interest towards social interaction, mainly competition and collaboration. However, individuals are more likely to related to personally relevant messages, as opposed to more generic once. This links the activity to match the cognitive, emotional, and physical attributes of the user. We consider such aspect of interaction by harnessing technologymediated persuasion.

Coaching

Our distinguishing contribution is to tailor the user-system interaction with a human coach. Unlike most interventions, we employ a coach based diet management service to boost behavioral change in user by tuning their diet plan. The system provides the capability for the coach to instantly interact with the user when a relapse state is detected. This approach will address the limitations and relations of user-to-system interactions that is purely automated and has moderate effect in health behavior change.

Personalization

Research increasingly suggests that each of us is unique in the way we absorb and metabolize nutrients. This also applies to the level of prepartness to change and perform a behaviour. This dawning realization has proved that applying a one-size-fits-all would not work for all users. Since we have different preferences and lifestyles. Therefore, personalization and providong a tailored approach is essential to increase the effectiveness of the given activity.

Collaboration

CoachMe application is the result of a PhD thesis in Computer Science conducted by Ahmed Fadhil

Publications

Some of the publications and ongoing work on CoachMe research

Fadhil et al., 2016

CoachMe: a platform for promoting healthy lifestyle. In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services Adjunct (MobileHCI '16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1077-1080. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2957265.2965004

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