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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H024506/1
Title: CHANGE: Engendering Change in People's Everyday Habits Using Ubiquitous Computing Technologies
Principal Investigator: Rogers, Professor Y
Other Investigators:
Chalmers, Dr D Rodden, Professor T Gaver, Professor W
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computing
Organisation: Open University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2009 Ends: 31 August 2011 Value (£): 201,849
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Mobile Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Creative Industries
Sports and Recreation
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Sep 2009 Cross-Disciplinary Feasibility Account Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
A recent development in computing is 'persuasive technology' for healthcare; sensor-based and mobile technologies are being developed to encourage, entice or even coerce people to become healthier through taking more physical exercise. Sensing and monitoring devices are used to measure (i) bodily functions, such as heart rate and GSR and (ii) the amount of exercise someone performs, e.g., number of steps taken or laps swam. The various data streams are then fed into a persuasive application running on a smartphone. These can be compared to personal, peer or group targets set by people which maybe hourly, daily or weekly. Seeing how you are doing relative to an agreed or shared target is thought to motivate people to do more exercise.Our feasibility account will investigate how a range of persuasive techniques can be designed and tested to encourage other types of behaviour change, through using ubiquitous technologies. We are interested in changing people's everyday habits with respect to environmental concerns, such as reducing an individual, group or organization's carbon footprint. We will investigate whether and how persuasive techniques can encourage, enable or enforce people to change their everyday habits. Our goal is to promote 'proactive' and 'provocative' interactions with the environment. We will use off-the-shelf mobile and sensor-based devices that have recently become available, including smartphones with micro-projectors that allow for flexible forms of ambient and contextual information to be displayed. Examples of everyday habits we will explore include food shopping, selecting one's wardrobe or engaging in leisure activities. The focus will be at the point of situated decision-making, where the aim is to provide 'just-in-time' information at key places where it can nudge, nag or nod, such as people's clothing, food packaging, the dinner plate or other everyday objects. An illustrative project is a computational roaming display that 'shadows' people while shopping, and depicts aggregate visualizations of a product's values, in terms of its carbon footprint, nutritional content, farming method employed, etc. Another might be an internet usage public display that depicts how many web searches, twitters, Facebook postings, news downloads, etc, someone performs each day, week, month in terms of a carbon footprint, relative to others footprints, in an organisation, with a view to seeing how this might change their collective behaviour. We will prioritize projects that are 'edgy' and 'informative' raising contentious ethical and political issues with the general public including issues of control, privacy and trust. To achieve our goals, we will use both unconventional and interdisciplinary methods to create and test a range of prototypes to determine if we can persuade or coerce people to change their individual and collective everyday habits. A series of hardware systems will be designed in quick succession and evolved in response to user experimentations. Where possible, readily available hardware and software toolkits, and software libraries that are open source, will be used. We will also reciprocate, making our prototypes available for these communities to enable them to remain vibrant. We will open source all aspects of our development and the tools we use to construct these prototype systems (both hardware and software) to encourage DIY/hobbyist communities to further improve our systems, or transform them by using it in ways not imagined. Hence, where possible and productive, we plan to involve the general public in our research.The outcomes will include new understandings of how to use computing technology to change people's everyday habits; design guidance and principles for developing persuasive technologies and a number of demonstrator applications. Quality of life will be improved through pro-actively engaging people in their lives with respect to values they care about.
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