mediaX Thought Leader Helps Create Storytelling Fitness App

August 5, 2020

Even with fitness bands and smartwatches fully ready to monitor and report our activity, we don’t stick with our resolutions to get fit and stay fit. Why? Because these devices aren’t sufficiently engaging and make some people feel inadequate if they don’t reach their goals, says James Landay, professor of computer science at Stanford University and associate director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (Stanford HAI). “They become a reminder of what we’re not doing that we committed to do.”

To address this problem, Landay and a crew of students created WhoIsZuki, a fitness app that uses storytelling to keep users interested in staying active over time. Each week, if the user meets his or her goals, the story moves to the next chapter in the ongoing tale of Zuki, an adorable extraterrestrial who travels to Earth to find his lost brother. The story is told visually, with only minimal text, and appears on the home screen of the user’s smartphone.

“Just by seeing the display every time you unlock your phone, we hope you will be encouraged to do more physical activity,” Landay says.

In a recent paper, Landay’s team described both the iterative steps they took to make Zuki’s story as engaging as possible and the pilot study they ran to test the app. In the long run, any commercial version of WhoIsZuki will need to have a menu of stories for users to choose from. “We’re definitely of the mind that there will be different stories that will appeal to different audiences,” Landay says.

Read the entire story by Katharine Miller HERE

See James Landay’s mediaX Talk “From On Body to Out of Body User Experience” HERE.