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Using degraded music quality to encourage a health improving walking pace : BeatClearWalker

Komninos, Andreas and Dunlop, Mark D and Rowe, David and Hewitt, Allan and Coull, Steven (2015) Using degraded music quality to encourage a health improving walking pace : BeatClearWalker. EAI Endorsed Transactions on Ambient Systems, 15 (7). ISSN 2032-927X

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Abstract

Meeting the target of 8000 steps/day, as recommended by many national governments and health authorities, can provide considerable physical and mental health benefits and is seen as a key target for reducing obesity levels and improving public health. However, to optimize the health benefits, walking should be performed at a “moderate” intensity. While there are numerous mobile fitness applications that monitor distance walked, none directly support walking at this cadence nor has there been any research into live feedback for walking cadence. We present a smartphone fitness application to help users learn how to walk at a moderate cadence and maintain that cadence. We apply real-time audio effects that diminish the audio quality of music when the target walking cadence is not being reached. This provides an immersive and intuitive application that can easily be integrated into everyday life as allows users to walk while listening to their own music and encourages eyes-free interaction. In this paper, we introduce our approach, design, initial lab evaluation and a controlled outdoor study. Results show that using music degradation decreases the number of below-cadence steps, that users felt they worked harder with our player and would use it while exercise walking.