Invited talk: Using degraded MP3 quality to encourage a health improving walking pace

Last week I was invited to give a talk at Glasgow University on some work done last year with Mark Dunlop. Here is an outline of the talk and the slides:

Promotion of walking is integral to improving public health for many sectors of the population. National governments and health authorities now widely recommend a total daily step target (typically 7,000- 10,000 steps/day). Meeting this target can provide considerable physical and mental health benefits and is seen as a key target for reducing national obesity levels, and improving public health. However, to optimise the health benefits, walking should be performed at a “moderate” intensity - often defined as 3 times resting metabolic rate, or 3 METs. While there are numerous mobile fitness applications that monitor distance walked, none directly target the pace, or cadence, of walkers.

BeatClearWalker is a fitness application for smartphones, designed to help users learn how to walk at a moderate pace (monitored via walking cadence, steps/min.) and encourage maintenance of that cadence. The application features a music player with linked pedometer. Based on the user’s target cadence, BeatClearWalker will apply real-time audio effects to the music if the target walking cadence is not being reached. This provides an immersive and intuitive application that can easily be integrated into everyday life as it allows users to walk while listening to their own music and encourages eyes-free interaction with the device.

This talk introduces the application, its design and evaluation. Results show that using our degraded music decreases the number of below-cadence steps and, furthermore, that the effect can persist when the degradation is stopped.

Thursday 18th Sept, 4pm, room F121, Computing Science, Lillybank Gdns, University of Glasgow.