An efficient smart phone app should make it easy to collect data, but not so simple that you forget to look at the data and reflect on that information, based on the team of researchers at hand.
According to Eun Kyoung Choe, who is the assistant professor of information sciences and technology, at Penn State, says they have found that those individuals who accessed a sleep monitoring app through a widget on an Android smartphone were much more inclined to enter their diary information manually, and to interact with their data compared to individuals who monitored their sleep without using this feature.
Android widget SleepTight
Researchers developed an Android sleep monitoring app widget that is called SleepTight, which focuses on promoting ease of entering along with engaging with the data. Sleep Tight is a data capturing tool and it also offers you visual reminders of your sleep patterns and activities. The widget will show on either your Android’s lock screen or your home screen.
“The widget is not a full app, but it’s a small window on the home screen where people can interact with the information and access the full app,” said Choe. “We thought that maybe the widget could ease the capture burden, as well as ease the access burden.”
The researchers recruited 22 people for the study, and what they learned was those participants who used the widget version of the app were much more likely to actually enter their daily sleep diary information into the sleep app than those participants who didn’t use the widget. Sleep diary adherence was 92% for those who had installed the widget on their app compared to just 73% who used the app without the widget.
In addition, those participants with the widget version viewed their sleep summary page far more often than those participants who just used the full app version.
How does it work?
“This result indicates that the lock screen and home screen widgets reminded participants to view the sleep summary page and offered a shortcut to the sleep summary page,” the researchers said. “Thus, we can conclude that widgets afford frequent self-reflection.”
Therefore, increased self-reflection could increase the chances that those who use it will make the needed changes in behavior to benefit their health, according to Wanda Pratt, professor in the information school, Julie A. Kientz, associate professor in human centered design and engineering, all of the University of Washington, and Choe who worked with Bongshin Lee, senior researcher at Microsoft Research and Matthew Kay, doctoral candidate in computer science.
The researchers presented what they had found at the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing. They also asked each of the participants using weekly surveys in combination with exit
interviews what they learned from the app. Participants using either one of the Sleep Tight apps with/without widget showed signs of self-awareness and self-reflection. They pointed out that they had a better understanding of their sleep patterns, as well as non-sleep activities that could influence sleep patterns, like alcohol, diet, etc.