An activity tracker focused on rewarding your friends



AI can only be as good as the data it learns from, and a big challenge for AI in healthcare is that we don't have great data sets. The quantified-self movement seemed like it would change that, but once the hype cycle ended, people took their fitness trackers off, shoved them into a drawer, and deleted their apps.

The potential, however, is still there, and Relay started as a week-long challenge to create a new type of quantified-self app. Going in, I didn't know much about the quantified-self movement, so I started with some exploratory research—to understand the market, the users, their underlying needs, and desires. I looked into who these people are, what they track, and what tools are available to them. Then I talked to them about the QS apps that they use, used to use, and why they stopped using them.


Problem Finding

To figure out who I was designing for and what problems I would address I made a simple journey map to focus on identifying the hardest problems first. From the three types of people who use QS apps—data explorers, performance trackers, and self-improvers, I chose to focus on self-improvers like Charlie, our persona. Charlie is a 34-year-old project manager, who has used a lot of different QS apps, setting short-term goals, sometimes achieving them, sometimes not. Ultimately she stops using them after a few weeks and those quick wins also disappear. Competing with her friends has helped her stay engaged a little longer in the past, but she gets bored of winning or tired of loosing and disengages. QS products fail to retain self-improvers because they don't create enough long-term value, the data often feels meaningless, and they neglect to instill a sense of purpose. With Relay, I set out to change that.


Concept Generation

Starting wide, I explored as many ideas as possible to discover the best concepts, then combined them into a single direction. Relay would solve the QS retention problem by motivating users to track their data by rewarding their friends, relying on social contribution, social pressure, and social status to keep users engaged long-term. Tracking food, activity, and mood becomes easy to do when your friends are relying on you. In a 2010 fitness-centered social intervention, researchers from MIT's Human Dynamics Lab observed that monetary rewards increased participants' activity levels by 3.2%. In the second instance—competition—in addition to a monetary award, participants were also shown their friends activity, and their activity levels increased by 5.5%. In the final condition—contribution—the friends of the participants' received a monetary award proportional to the participants' activity. In this condition, participants activity levels increased by 22.3%.


This story starts with a New York Times article, mimicking how Charlie might find the app in the real world. She clicks a link on the article, launches the app store, and downloads the app. From her home screen, Charlie opens Relay to explore the app. Sketching a storyboard of how someone might interact with your interface is one of my favorite ways to visualize a use case or user story. Unlike video, photography, or in-person skits, you can design the interface as you storyboard. Once I thought through the ideas, arrived at a solution I liked, I moved from sketching to Sketch. 


Using InVision, I quickly created a prototype for testing the concept with real people. The faux-NYT article, download steps, and a high-fidelity UI allow the prototype to feel real enough to get actionable feedback from people without investing too much time.