Digital Behavior Change, Series — Wearables
As the panademic continues, we continue to embark what will be an e-year and a half of remote working, and social distancing activities. I have come to a continued enthusiasm for Tech. As this year, I’ve transitioned a bit in my work, in the field of technology, I wanted to build a series on Digital Behavior Change. Collaborating with colleauges in international development as well as in public benefit corporations, embracing tech for good is an opportunity for the future. Exploring behavioral change dimensions can lead us to further insights on Tech’s force for good. In tech, behavioral insights are intriguing. These insights provide lessons into human behavior.
Below is the series am starting on this compelling topic of Digital Behavior Change:
o1 |Digital Behavior Change, Wearables
o2 | Digital Behavior Change, GovTech
o3 | Digital Behavior Change, Education
Given the globalization, evolution of technology, at this point, it is common for the average person in a G20 nation to own a wearable. If one does not, the understanding that technology is being customized, adapted to lifestyle use certainly is apparent. The advancements of technology have surged new design, new concepts, and new problem solving through these products in minimal interventions to enhance personal lifestyles. It is this added value that gives wearables a market in G20 nations.
Among some of the companies that are most commonly known for wearables, BOSE, SONY, FitBit, and Garmin lead with integrity. It does seem the market size is an approximate $15.74 Billion market that only further continues with start ups propelling forward new wearable solutions (Start Up City). According to Statista, in a forecast from Gartner, “global end-user spending on wearable devices is expected to nearly double between 2018 and 2021.” This pulse on the market was taken prior to the pandemic. Given the pandemic, these figures could continuously rise. Given the state of the economy, a widely predicted new amount of users could also remain as is. According to Gartner (2019), the increases in consumer spending in wearables are coming from three drivers: “improved sensor accuracy, advances in miniaturization and better user data protection.”
While I write this article from a development and innovation perspective, thinking of an Apple Watch or wearable that can serve a purpose in improving a technological intervention is interesting to me. Luckily, I was able to find out more by reading Pinder, Vermuelen, Cowan and Beale (2019)’s paper Digital Behaviour Change Intervention to Break and Form Habits.
Wearables addressing WHO Concerns
Pinder et al (2019) suggested that DBCIs (Digital Behavior Change Interventions) can actually lead to tackling development challenges. Their article begins with the World Health Organization’s four identified key lifestyle behaviors. All which if untreated can create gaps in human health. According to the WHO Non Communicable Diseases Progress Monitor (2017), the four key lifestyle behaviors are:
- Tobacco Use
- Unhealthy Diet
- Lack of Physical Activity
- Harmful Use of Alcohol
It is believed that through DBCIs, there can be ways to mitigate the effects, and habits these harmful lifestyle behaviors have on human health. Pinder et al, provide a very concise overview of strategies that are often used in DBCIs that can improve or alter behavioral change. As I share the list, I will do my best to couple it with a technology, whose offering or added value, sure enough is one of the enabling behavioral change interventions.
- Alter Context (Chewing Gum over a Cigarette, Images of Non Alcoholic Beverages over Alcoholic Beverages)
- Instinctive Primes
- Goal Priming (DuoLingo)
- Alter Cue Salience
- Train, Context, Response
- Implementation Intentions
- Provide Information (E-Post Its)
- Just In Time Reminders (Google Calendar, iCal)
- Self-Control (CALM App, Calorie Intake Apps)
- Self-Monitoring (FitBit, Apple Watch; Activity Circles, Steps App Pedometer)
- Revalue Outcome (UpRight GO)
Habit Formation and Behavioral Repetition
As we can gather, there are many strategies in Wearable Technology that brings us to acquire. Through technology, we can have access to “reminder engines,” that track our behavior, patterns, and give us data analysis through what Pinder et al refer to as simple data presentations. The Activity Circles is among one of my favorite features of the Apple Watch. Below are some insights to —
It is clear that this technology works, because Habits are part of the human experience. Technology is indeed getting smarter and more thoughtful in its approach to provide value. Tech is designing based on habitual patterns. In the past, I had looked into Behavioral Economics in International Development in an economics course at Brandeis University looking into the work of J PAL. Taking a similar approach, yet in development, J PAL advances randomized control trials to better understand where development policy and development programs should cater their interest for effective and sustainable change. Been moved ever since by the influence and opportunities for social change through Behavioral Economics.
So can digital nudges help us overcome gaps in our health and lead us towards healthier lifestyles? Can a consumer who has personal data be moved or motivated to change their behavior given their access to a rich, portable data set that either serves to alter, train, self-control, self-monitor, or revalue outcomes?
The adoption rates of smart technology will only continue to rise. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the pandemic is incentivizing a further enthusiasm to tech and wearables. Can we see Pinder, Vermuelen, Cowan and Beale’s findings to be tech used for a force for good? I commend their great work, and believe it can inspire further research on digital behavior change.
Throughout this three article series, I intend to illustrate Tech as a force for good. Pinder and his colleague suggest that digital behavior change may hold a great promise in supporting users to change their behavior. So let’s continue to explore, and use Technology as a force for good. Let it be used in smart ways to address human and environmental gaps. Next in series, we will look into Digital Behavior Change and GovTech.