So your phone already… keeps you connected to your boss 24/7… lets your friends bother you in the middle of a date by texting… alarm when you were right in the middle of that great dream…
And soon it will have a whole new way to micromanage your life for you thanks to researchers at the University of Washington. Now, your cell phone will be able to point it out when you gain a few extra pounds.
Oh, and they will also let you know when you are not being green enough.
Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, they are just two applications for your cell phone that are designed to help you manage your life.
Researchers at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone’s background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.
UbiFit and UbiGreen are part of a larger project at the UW to use mobile computing in everyday activities and long-term goals such as fitness, said project leader James Landay, UW computer science and engineering associate professor. “You can’t get fit in a short period of time in one place,” he said. “It happens long-term, in many different places and ways.”
How does it work, you want to know?
The device includes an accelerometer to sense the user’s movement. The programs could run on phones with built-in accelerometers, such as the iPhone and the new Android G1, with no need for external equipment, Landay said. UbiGreen also relies on changing cell phone tower signals to determine whether a person is taking a trip. The sensing device determines what the user is doing based on how it gets jiggled around, Landay said — the localized motion at your waist will be different if you’re walking, jogging, or sitting in a car. The sensing device sends signals three times per second via Bluetooth to the cell phone, where the application averages these rapid signals and translates them into, for example, a 20-minute jog or a drive to work.
How do you know when you have reached your goals? Well each program has a unique way to display your progress.
UbiFit displays an empty lawn at the beginning of the week, and flowers grow as the user works out during the week. Different kinds of workouts yield different colored flowers. Users set weekly workout goals and are rewarded with a butterfly when the goal is met.
UbiGreen displays a tree on the cell phone’s background that grows leaves, flowers, then fruit as the user makes green choices. Icons light up when a choice saves money, incorporates exercise, or allows the user to multi-task. A green bar and number also display how many pounds of carbon dioxide each trip saves compared to a car ride.
“The last 30 years of personal computing has been in support of people sitting at their desks,” Landay said, “but the next wave will be these little computers that are with us all the time and have an understanding of our context in the physical world.”