Self-experiments allow people to explore what behavioral changes lead to improved health and wellness. However, it is challenging to run such experiments in a scientifically valid way that is also flexible and able to accommodate the realities of daily life. We present a set of design principles for guided self-experiments that aim to lower this barrier to self-experimentation. We demonstrate the value of the principles by implementing them in SleepBandits, an integrated system that includes a smartphone application for sleep experiments. SleepBandits guides users through the steps of a single-case experiment, automatically collecting data from the built-in sensors and user input and calculating and presenting results in real-time. We released SleepBandits to the Google Play Store and people voluntarily downloaded and used it. Based on the data from 365 active users from this in-the-wild study, we discuss opportunities and challenges with the design principles and the SleepBandits system.
A sleep deficit has far-reaching consequences, but for many people, healthy sleep is not a priority or a possibility. We explore the potential for "sleepy games" as a genre of transformational games. To explore this design space, we prototyped nine games through an iterative design process. Based on analysis of design decisions and the games as artifacts, we identify seven design challenges for sleepy games: agency and control; physiological and mental arousal; intervention timing; social embeddedness; multisensory experience; vulnerability; and identity and values. We expand on three games with playtesting to show how these design challenges unfold for players in practice, show the impact on players' lives, and discuss sleepy games as creative, social, and situated practices.
Stress is caused by a variety of events in our daily lives. By anticipating stressful situations, we can prepare and better cope with stressors when they actually occur. However, many past-centric personal informatics (PI) tools focus on capturing events that already happened and analyzing the data. In this work, we examine how anticipation a future-centric self-tracking practice could be used to manage daily stress levels. To address this, we built MindForecaster, a calendar- mediated stress anticipation application that allows users to expect stressful events in advance, generates activities to mitigate stress, and evaluates actual stress levels compared to previously estimated stress levels. In a 30-day deployment with 47 users, the users who explicitly planned and executed coping interventions reported reduced stress more than those who only expected stressful events. We suggest design implications for stress management by incorporating the properties of anticipation into current PI models.
Beyond being the world's largest social network, Facebook is for many also one of its greatest sources of digital distraction. For students, problematic use has been associated with negative effects on academic achievement and general wellbeing. To understand what strategies could help users regain control, we investigated how simple interventions to the Facebook UI affect behaviour and perceived control. We assigned 58 university students to one of three interventions: goal reminders, removed newsfeed, or white background (control). We logged use for 6 weeks, applied interventions in the middle weeks, and administered fortnightly surveys. Both goal reminders and removed newsfeed helped participants stay on task and avoid distraction. However, goal reminders were often annoying, and removing the newsfeed made some fear missing out on information. Our findings point to future interventions such as controls for adjusting types and amount of available information, and flexible blocking which matches individual definitions of 'distraction'.
Self-tracking is an important part of self-care. However, predefined self-tracking approaches can impede people's agency in managing their health. We investigated a customisable and pictorial self-tracking approach in multiple sclerosis self-management by implementing and conducting a field study of Trackly: a prototype app that supports people in defining and colouring pictorial trackers, such as body shapes. We found that participants utilised the elements of Trackly designed to support agentive behaviour: they defined personally meaningful tracking parameters in their own words, and particularly valued being able to flexibly colour in and make sense of their pictorial trackers. Having been able to support their individual self-care intentions with Trackly, participants reported a spectrum of interrelated experiences of agency, including a sense of ownership, identity, self-awareness, mindfulness, and control. Our findings demonstrate the importance of supporting people's individual needs and creative capacities to foster mindful and personally meaningful engagement with health and wellbeing data.