Currently browsing Posts Tagged “gamification”

Fitbit Ultra – A Step Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

Fitbit Ultra, the latest update of the original Fitbit, is a step counter, which allows monitoring your overall daily activity. The current version also comes with a new stairclimb detection and has additional features such as a clock and a stopwatch. The small wearable sensor can be clipped onto your clothing or placed in your handbag. It comes with a computer connected base station for charging the sensor and transmitting your data wirelessly from the Fitbit device to your online profile.

Fitbit visualizes health information and motivates towards an active lifestyle

In its default settings, Fitbit suggests that you take an average of 10,000 steps each day in order to maintain a generally healthy condition. Obviously, this daily target, along with the number of stairs to climb, can be adjusted to your personal needs. Right on the website’s dashboard, you can see how well you’ve achieved your weekly score represented in the number of steps you’ve taken, stairs you’ve climbed, or calories you’ve burned. A number of other stats display ratings such as how long you are active each day, or how long and how well you slept at night. In order to better visualize your stepcount, Fitbit has implemented some game mechanics in the form of badges that are rewarded  according to the number of steps you take. These badges can be linked to foursquare, where they are displayed on 4sq’s website in the partner badges section.

Fitbit online profileIn the website’s log section, you can track other health information such as nutrition, non-stepcount related sport activities or physical parameters such as blood pressure or body weight. Your Fitbit online profile is compatible with Runkeeper’s health graph. When both services are connected, they will automatically share their data, even when obtained from third-party providers such as Withings Wifi Body Scale.

Now, with the product update, Fitbit also features an iPhone application, which helps you track your nourishment and overview your stats on the go.

Fitbit mobile appThe Fitbit can also be used as a sleep sensor. In order to do so, the device must be attached to an armband, which you wear while sleeping. By measuring your overnight movement, Fitbit detects whether you are asleep or awake, and gives you feedback on your sleep quality.

Does Fitbit help staying fit?

Fitbit does a great job at monitoring your step count. When I compared Fitbit’s count with that of the iPod nano’s pedometer, the results of both sensors were within a 5% tolerance range, which seems to be fairly accurate. Compared to the 2 days battery life of the nano, the Fitbit runs for at least a whole week, which is definitely a more user-friendly experience. The dashboard on Fitbit’s website displays a good overview of your activity stats and the log is a well-structured file for storing one’s health data. For those who want to collect their fitness data at services such as Runkeeper, Fitbit allows you to easily connect your Fitbit profile with them and import your step count to them.

Monitoring your step count and the number of floors that you’ve taken can definitely be a way to keep users engaged in improving their overall physical activity. A lot of people – including myself – feel motivated to walk instead of driving or take the stairs instead of using the elevator when rewarded with positive feedback. Especially allowing Fitbit to  automatically post your stepcount on your Facebook or Twitter account can certainly spur your pride and step up your motivation.

If you want to use Fitbit for sleep tracking as well, it can get a bit fiddly to constantly have to attach it to your armband overnight and then clip it back on to your clothing during the day. Companies such as Jawbone or MyBasis will soon come out with sensors, which can be worn 24/7 as a bracelet or watch, giving them an advantage over Fitbit’s convenience in everyday use. So far however, the Fitbit Ultra definitely remains a well-designed, user-friendly and health-engaging product that has made a great contribution to my personal wellbeing. With their just announced  Aria Wifi Scale, Fitbit has made clear that they are going to continue contributing to a healthier lifestyle even more in the future.

RescueTime – Don’t Fool Yourself in Time Management!

If you spend most of your time working on your computer, you will have realized the thin line between productivity and procastination. How long do you spend reading news and blogs to get the information you’re looking for, and to stay up to date with your fast moving business? RescueTime is a service which logs and tracks the time spent on your computer’s active window and thereby analyzes what you are doing. In order to use the service, you will have to download and install a plugin to your Mac, PC or Android device which does all this tracking for you.

RescueTime analyzes your productivity

Rescue Time analyzes how long you’ve spent on each software tool or website and tallies the working time for each activity. RescueTime Chart on Activities All your activities can be grouped into categories such as presentation for applications like Keynote or Powerpoint or video for websites like Youtube or video players. Thereby, you can get detailed information on which kinds of applications you’ve been using the most.

RescueTime Chart on CategoriesTime spent on tools and websites are classified with a productivity index which comes with default settings and can be adjusted to your own requirements. Thereby, RescueTime displays your productive time vs. distracted time, calculates a productivity score and shows how you compare to the others users of the service. RescueTime Chart on EfficiencyProductivity is displayed over several time intervals such as day, week or month. Well visualized charts give you feedback of how much time you have spent on the computer being very productive (blue), productive (transparent blue), distracted (transparent red) or very distracted (red). RescueTime Chart on Productivity by the hourIf you don’t wish to check your stats on a regular basis, you might go with the weekly email report, which gives you a detailed feedback on your productivity as well.

Tune RescueTime’s productivity index to your own productivity needs

Since everyone has different working needs, it’s important to refine the default productivity index  in order to receive an accurate feedback. For example, the default settings rate social networks as very distracting, which might be true for many of us. However, since I use Twitter and Facebook as a marketing tool, I had to readjust this setting in order to receive appropriate results. Since I constantly change my computing habits along with the websites and tools I use the most, I inevitably need to readjust my indexing parameters from time to time to keep the feedback RescueTime gives me realistic. Therefore, I set the individual activity indexes to reflect their contribution to value-generation for my business. For my personal settings, this means that working on actual results with software tools is indexed as very productive, whereas web browsing often doesn’t generate real value in the short-term and is indexed as neutral or distracting, depending on the topic of the website. Certainly every user has to come up with their own criteria to define productive and non-productive computer usage in order to enable a helpful feedback.

Benefits for your time management from RescueTime

First off, what you get is a straightforward feedback of your time management. Most people underestimate how time-consuming meetings, breaks or occasional interruptions can be. Every time you return to your computer, RescueTime shows you a pop-up which asks you what you’ve been doing in the meantime while displaying the length of your absence. If you take advantage of this RescueTime function, you can not only receive feedback of what you’ve been doing directly at your computer, but also get a better feel for whether you been using your time well while away from it.

The overview of your working behavior has several benefits. Getting a feedback on your productivity level can help encourage you to stick to your main priorities without losing sight of them amidst all the other urgent things to be done. This is probably the most important advantage when thought in the lines of efficiency. On the other hand, seeing how long and how productive you have worked might either give you a kick when you are about to do some extra hours at night or makes it easier to relax during your free time.

Overall experience with RescueTime

Rescue Time is a tool which easily runs in the background. I am currently using it on three different computers from which the data is seamlessly aggregated into one profile. I can thereby cover up to 80+ hours of my weekly time with Rescue Time, comprising work, meetings or lunch. Of course, the tool only really makes sense for those who work mostly at a computer and who are willing to take some time to adjust the indexing parameters to appropriately monitor their personal working style. If you do so, you will get a precise tracking of your time management. For the self quantifiers out there, this has huge potential for integration into 3rd party applications to give you an even better overview on working hours, productivity, sleep, sports and stress level and their interdependencies. I hope to see some cool integration in aggregation tools soon!

RescueTime Badge Productivity

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iPod nano and the New Nike+ Active – A Perfect Match?

After the latest software update for the 6th generation of Apple’s iPod nano, the Nike+ features have now been extended to monitor the steps you take throughout your day. With the new Nike+ Active your step-count contributes to an engaging online game experience. How well does Team Apple/Nike work?

The iPod nano and its latest software update

I probably don’t need to talk too much about the iPod nano. Most of you already know it is a tiny portable music player that comes with fun add-ons such as different clocks and photo albums. Thanks to the latest software update (Version 1.2) the Nano’s Nike+ feature now has a new function called “walk”. With it, you can easily count the number of steps you take throughout the day with the integrated accelerometer and sync your step-count with your Nike+ Active account. This still requires iTunes and a cable connection, but what you can do with your steps on the Nike+ Active website is worth the hustle.

The new Nike+ Active comes with great gamification features

Once your data is uploaded to the Nike+ Active website, your steps are rewarded with a virtual currency called NikeFuel. For those who are into running or gym, these are additional ways to earn NikeFuel. With this currency, you can play an online game with the aim of conquering cities around the world and encountering renowned landmarks. There you are presented facts and photos of the sights on your route, making it all like a virtual trip around the world. Starting in New York, you move up over the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Nike+ Active, New YorkSource: Nike+ActiveNike+Active, New York, Empire State BuildingNike+Active, New York, conquered

After having conquered one city, you can then move on to places like London, Paris or Tokyo. Several game mechanics such as rewards and leaderboards keep the users engaged in gaining more NikeFuel through their real world activities and make the users stay motivated to sync and play regularly. Additional fun features allow e.g. pasting your face onto the Statue of Liberty and posting the picture on Facebook.

Already known for their mobile apps such as Nike BOOM or Nike Training Club, the company once more has shown that they really understand gamification. Although it is still in the beta phase, the new Nike+ Active is a promising approach to engaging users in personal fitness.

Who is Nike+ Active for?

Unlike Runkeeper or Fitbit, the combination iPod nano/Nike+ is not so much intended for seriously tracking and aggregating general health information. Instead, it puts its focus on having fun, which works great to form a positive feedback loop for your daily walking habits. This makes the Nike+ Active perfect for anybody looking for some motivation and fun on the go. Since Nike+ doesn’t share user data with third party services, its value for Quantified Self purposes is limited. I hope Nike+ will change their strategy and contribute their fitness data to a richer set of personal health information in future services.

iPod or not?

If you’re intersted in first getting to know Nike+ Active you might want to try the Nike+ app for 1.99$ on your smartphone, which is synced with Nike+ Active as well. However, using it 24/7 will quickly drain your mobile’s battery and won’t deliver appropriate results without an accurate GPS signal, for example when you’re indoors. I’ve been using Fitbit for quite some time now and find an independent and wearable pedometer, which doesn’t interfere with my smartphone works much better for the time being. By really counting every step you take, you can get a holistic overview of your over-all fitness efforts instead of narrowing your view on just your weekly workouts.

Once you’ve decided to become part of the Nike+ Active game, I would definetely recommend buying the nano. More than a pedometer, you will get a slim and lightweight music player that allows doing your workouts without carrying the bulky smartphone around. I am sure the visionary Steve Jobs put several more grand strategic decisions towards a healthier lifestyle into place before leaving us. For this, and for so much more, my deepest appreciation goes out to His Steveness.

Nike+Active Badge

Make Your Everyday Life a Personal Development Game

After reading a whole lot of literature on coaching and personal development, I started forming a clearer picture of who I wanted to be and what my core values are. In order to fortify certain characteristics about myself, I began playing a little game I had learned from Sir Winston Churchill. In his younger days, the famous politician had his desired traits for his own personality written on a set of flashcards . In order to develop his character,  he then drew a card every day and practiced behaving accordingly to the specific characteristic.

Using a mobile app makes behavioral training fun for tech enthusiasts

Tagcloud life-gamification on igrowdigital.comNowadays, thanks to modern technological advances, we no longer need to carry a batch of flashcards around with us. There are several flashcard applications available directly for your smartphone, which can make this training even more delightful.

 

Priming is a powerful tool to get focused on whats really important in life

For quite a while now, every morning I use the iPhone app “flashcard deluxe” which randomly picks my personal behavioral goal for the day. Doing this right after waking up takes advantage of the powerful phenomenon known as “priming”: A clear mind in the morning leaves your thoughts open for information which can easily be remembered and recalled throughout the rest of the day. So, whenever you have a quiet moment for your thoughts, remembering your behavioral goal for the day can help provide guidance on how to react to certain situations. I found it helpful to make my personal development game more precise by reflecting how certain characteristics might best be expressed in specific actions, then summarizing these actions on the back of my flashcards. For example, one can practice confident behavior by focusing on an upright posture and by speaking in a loud and clear voice. Or, being more relaxed might best be expressed by making sure to smile often, breathe deeply and generally taking things slowly.

Practicing behavioral pattern leads to personal development

Practicing behavior patterns forms and strengthens personal traits and widens your scope of reaction mechanisms. This will give you the freedom to choose how best to deal with different situation in your life. Mixing this training experience with randomly picked goals from your mobile device adds more fun into the equation, and you can easily get back to your training instructions whenever you need them. In my opinion, the experience of interacting with a mobile device in order to train personal goals is a simple showcase of a whole new palette of personal development tools and products which we will soon see popping up in the future.