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Hi-Tech Aims to Improve Lifestyle

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man getting weighed on scale

SPL / BBC News

A three-year project is exploring how people react and behave when information on their energy use and activity levels are presented to them through mobile phones, energy meters, and online social networks. Previous research found that the way people are told about poor lifestyle choices can influence how they react and respond. Instead of simply telling people to stop, it is more effective to reveal how their behavior compares to their peers.

Through three separate investigations, the Charm Project, led by Kingston University reader Ruth Rettie, will collect data about consumption or usage behavior in relation to sustainability, send that information back to the participants, and see how their behavior changes. The first investigation will use mobile phones that feature software capable of measuring their users' activity levels using accelerometers to measure how far people walk and global positioning systems for those that bike. Participants will be given feedback on their activity levels and whether they are more or less active than others in the group. Information may be presented in different ways, such as a flower garden representing all users, with more active members' flowers growing taller.

A second investigation will monitor household energy use. Information on a home's energy use could be sent back to the resident using a text message, a project Web site, or a postal letter. The third investigation will focus on the social networking site Facebook and will explore how friends influence one another and see what methods are necessary to get people to live a more sustainable way of life.

From BBC News
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