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Jan 26, 2011

Take your two minutes

I stumbled over this site today: Do Nothing for 2 minutes.

The site presents the user with a very simple challenge: can you keep yourself from touching your computer for two minutes?

When the user enters the site a serene ocean view and the sound of waves displayed. The instructions ask to sit back and relax without touching your mouse or keyboard, and then a two minute timer begins counting down. If the user touches the mouse or the keyboard, a FAIL message appears, and the clock reset itself.

The site is very simple, but is gaining a lot of attention worldwide. In spite of its simplicity, I think that it includes interesting features: the provision of relaxing content “on demand”, the countdown, the feedback about compliance with task's instructions.

If any of you knows similar websites please post them in the comments!

Oct 12, 2007

Stop smoking programs go mobile

Via Textually.org [via Reuters]

Colorado's STEPP and Denver-based ad agency Cactus developed a message system on cell phones with an Internet quit program.

Initially aimed at high school students in Colorado, the state hopes to soon share its fledgling FixNixer program as a technique for all age groups and geographies.

QuitNet.com, one of the most established Web sites for quitting, is also considering more tailored messages to users of its site and a foray into mobile, while quit support groups are popping up on social networks MySpace and Facebook.


Jul 26, 2007

Mobile Persuasion: the book

A good reading on mobile persuasion - Edited by BJ Fogg and Dean Eckles



 For more info, see www.mobilepersuasion.com


Apr 27, 2007

Using Eyetracking to Optimise Persuasion-Centered Design

From UsabilityNews 

Event Date: 26 April 2007 to 26 April 2007

Using Eyetracking to Optimise Persuasion-Centered Design: Rob Stevens, Bunnyfoot

Persuasion-Centered Design (PCD) utilises behavioural segmentation to plan different user journeys for different personality types. For example, competitive consumers receive less detailed information than methodical consumers. PCD facilitates consumers in self-selecting their behavioural type by utilizing descriptive in line links. By eyetracking consumers we can see if they engage with a link and choose not to select it. With PCD this outcome is often a planned for event, one that would be impossible to reliably measure without eyetracking.


Mar 23, 2007

Korean Startup Xtive fights Online Addiction with Subliminal Sound

Via Korea Times


Xtive, a Korean venture start-up, has developed a subliminal sound sequence, which it claims can prevent obsessive use of online games, thus giving hope to game addicts, reports The Korea Times. 

From the Korea Times interview

``We incorporated messages into an acoustic sound wave telling gamers to stop playing. The messages are told 10,000 to 20,000 times per second,’’ Xtive President Yun Yun-hae said.

``Game users can’t recognize the sounds. But their subconscious is aware of them and the chances are high they will quit playing,’’ the 35-year-old Yun said. ``Tests tell us the sounds work.’’

Xtive, which was established in 2005, spent about a year to create the sound sequence geared toward addressing the concern that Korean teenagers spend too much time playing computer games.

The addiction to the network games has turned into a serious social problem and some gamers have even died after long sessions in front of the computer.

Experts point out roughly 10 to 20 percent of high school students can be categorized as Web junkies who need treatment. And many believe that is a conservative perspective.

``Experiences tell us kids or adolescents simply don’t stop playing games when faced with forceful measures. Such attempts can also cause many side effects,’’ Yun said.

``But our newly developed sound sequence tells them to stop playing on their own. We think this can make a real difference in the war against obsessive game play,’’ he said.

Yun said Xtive plans to commercialize the phonogram along with the government and game companies.

``Game companies can install a system, which delivers the inaudible sounds after it recognizes a young user has kept playing after a preset period of time,’’ Yun said.

Xtive applied for a domestic patent for the phonogram and is looking to take advantage of the technology in other sectors.

``We can easily change the messages. In this sense, the potential for this technology is exponential,’’ Yun said.


Feb 17, 2007

NTT DoCoMo breathalyzer phone

Via Medgadget









The NTT DoCoMo breathalyzer phone sends a text message to your boss before you get behind the wheel of your company's bus or truck. 

Gizmodo report: 


KDDI Corp has developed a breathalyzer/cellphone combo that prevents inebriated taxi and bus drivers in Japan from getting behind the wheel. Companies that buy the phone will require their employees to blow into the breathalyzer before getting behind the wheel. The phone then measures how drunk (or sober) you are and sends the results to your company's computer along with a snapshot of the your mug and your location. If you've had too much sake, the phone will notify your boss who'll most likely fire your drunk ass. The phone and software cost a combined $1,250, which shouldn't be too much money for a big company to spend.

Dec 03, 2006


From usability news

You are invited to submit papers for PERSUASIVE 07 at Stanford University, April 27-28, 2007.

We welcome original papers based on empirical studies, theory, methods for research, and related ethical issues; and case studies of the highest quality.

Link to the conference website

Oct 06, 2006

DietMate Weight Loss Computer

Via Mindware Forum

dietmate weight-loss computer

DietMate is a hand-held computer that provides a program of weight loss, cholesterol reduction, and hypertension control. DietMate is made by Personal Improvement Computer Systems (PICS), which also makes two other tiny computerized mindgadgets: SleepKey Insomnia Treatment Hand-held Computer and the QuitKey Smoking Cessation Hand-Held Computer.

From the PICS website:

DietMate provides a sophisticated, yet easy to use, nutrition and exercise program that is tailored to each user's nutritional requirements, food preferences, and habits. By providing hundreds of nutritionally balanced menus which can be customized as desired, DietMate picks up where calorie counters leave off.

DietMate also tracks calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It provides daily nutritional targets, charts progress and even creates a shopping list. DietMate has been proven effective in both weight and cholesterol reduction, in clinical studies funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Sep 24, 2006

Is social networking changing the way people relate to each other?

New Scientist has an interview with sociologist and MIT professor Sherry Turkle about how "always-on" communication devices - i.e. instant messaging, Wi-Fi and cellphones - are changing the way people relate to each other.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

For some people, things move from "I have a feeling, I want to call a friend" to "I want to feel something, I need to make a call". In either case, what is not being cultivated is the ability to be alone and to manage and contain one's emotions. When technology brings us to the point where we're used to sharing our thoughts and feelings instantaneously, it can lead to a new dependence, sometimes to the extent that we need others in order to feel our feelings in the first place.

Our new intimacies with our machines create a world where it makes sense to speak of a new state of the self. When someone says "I am on my cell", "online", "on instant messaging" or "on the web", these phrases suggest a new placement of the subject, a subject wired into social existence through technology, a tethered self. I think of tethering as the way we connect to always-on communication devices and to the people and things we reach through them.


Continue to read the full interview

Sep 18, 2006

QuitKey Smoking Cessation Computer

Via Mindware


QuitKey is a small portable device that promises to help quit smoking:

This small device, which resembles an automobile keyless remote containing a computer that collects data on the test subject's smoking habits for one week. The computer implements a gradual rate reduction protocol targeting both the physiological dependence on nicotine and conditioned stimuli that may trigger the urge to smoke. QuitKey� cues the individual when it is time for him or her to smoke, based on their history. In reality, what it is trying to do is take away the natural instinct to smoke on impulse, instead teaching the women to smoke on a gradually diminishing schedule.


The device was recently tested in a small-scale pilot clinical study by tobacco-addiction researcher Monica Scheibmeir.

For the study, 10 participants were given a QuitKey, which was attached to a cigarette lighter. Every time the participant reached for the lighter, she was prompted to input data into the QuitKey. According to Scheibmeir, early results are promising. 



Aug 02, 2006

Home-based sensors could detect early signs of dementia

Via Medgadget 

According to a study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University researchers, continuous, unobtrusive monitoring of in-home activity may be a reliable way of assessing changes in motor behaviors that may occur along with changes in memory. The study was presented last week at the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Madrid.

From the university's press release:

"To see a trend over time, you need multiple measures - good days and bad days - and it often takes years to see that trend in a clinic setting," said Tamara Hayes, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering, and the study's lead author. She noted that most clinic visits by elders are spaced over months or even years, and their memory and motor skills performances are evaluated in a small number of tests completed in a limited amount of time.

"In contrast, we're looking continuously at elders' activity in their own homes," Hayes said. "Since we're measuring a person's activity many times over a short period, we can understand their normal variability and identify trends. If there's a change over a period, you can see it quickly. "

Mild cognitive impairment is a known risk factor for dementia, a neurological disorder most commonly caused by Alzheimer's disease. Changes in clinical measures of activity, such as walking and finger-tapping speeds, have been shown to occur at about the same time as memory changes leading to dementia. By detecting subtle activity changes over time in the natural setting of an elder's home, researchers hope to more effectively identify when elders are starting to have trouble.

Jul 29, 2006

Brain-activity interpretation competition won by Italian researchers

Via Mind Hacks 



A team of three Italian researchers (Emanuele Olivetti, Diego Sona, and Sriharsha Veeramachaneni) won $10000 in a brain-activity interpretation competition. Entrants were provided with the fMRI data and behavioural reports recorded when four people watched two movies. The competitors' task was to create an algorithm that could use the viewers ongoing brain activity to predict what they were thinking and feeling as the film unfolded.

The Italian team resulted to be the most accurate, with a correlation of .86 for basic features, such as whether an instant of the film contained music. The full results are here.

Jul 27, 2006

A mobile network that keeps track of everything you do

Re-blogged from Smart Mobs

AsiaMedia reports "Japan's No. 2 telecom operator KDDI Corp said yesterday that it had developed a server which keeps an electronic record of the smallest events in a person's life and lets others sift through them.

The Lifelog Pod jots down every activity made through a cellphone or computer, including taking photographs, searching for a restaurant, listening to music and managing money. While some may loathe the thought of an omniscient network, the company said it could provide a way to make friends."

Users can learn who else their friends chat with or delve through their companions" data -- minus areas protected by passwords -- to gauge their interests," a KDDI spokesman said.

"Your information is connected to that of your friend, and that of his friend, and so on.

"In this country of cellphone aficionados, cellphone users can also put their blogs on the common server. Only people who have a common connection -- such as a mutual friend -- will be able to access each other's data.

"This isn't a violation of privacy rights," the KDDI official said. "It is simply that everyone is connected."

Japan: A mobile network that keeps track of everything you do

Jul 25, 2006

How Internet Addiction Is Affecting Lives

An article published in Perspectives in Psychiatric Care states, "The Internet has properties that for some individuals promote addictive behaviors and pseudo-intimate interpersonal relationships." Nurse practitioners will soon find themselves faced with the issues of "internet addicts" and their inability to get offline.
Read the full press release here 

Jul 24, 2006

Mobile Persuasion 06

BJ Fogg's Persuasive Technology Lab (Stanford University) is sponsoring Mobile Persuasion 06, a one-day conference on how mobile technology can change people's beliefs and behaviors.





From the conference website:

Mobile Persuasion is for innovators, researchers, and companies creating mobile technologies that change people’s beliefs and behaviors. Applications include health, commerce, activism, social networking, addiction, advertising, gaming, and environmental conservation. This full-day event will feature expert presentations and panels on how mobile technology can change attitudes and behaviors.  

The event will take place November 10th at Stanford University. Free registration is available for a limited time.


Jul 03, 2006

Ethics of Persuasive Technology

BJ Fogg has posted to his blog "Captology Notebook" an unpublished article on the ethics of persuasive technology that is really worth reading... 






Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab

Authors' addresses: Daniel Berdichevsky, 1006 Wall St. Los Angeles, CA 90015; B.J. Fogg, Ramit Sethi and Manu Kumar, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University, Box 20456, Stanford, CA 94309

When a doctor tells you your blood pressure is too high, you may modify your lifestyle to compensate: less salt, more exercise, fewer freedom fries. In a sense, the doctor has committed a persuasive act. We are unlikely to question the ethics of her having done so. But what if the doctor were out of the picture? Suppose a device at your bedside not only informed you of your blood pressure each morning, but shifted colors to convey the likelihood of your suffering a heart attack. Would such a persuasive technology be as ethical as a doctor giving you advice in her office? What if it were co-marketed with a treadmill?

The objective of this article is to describe and test a framework for analyzing the ethics of technologies that change people’s attitudes and behaviors. We focus on computerized persuasive technologies—the field known as “captology”—though similar considerations apply to non-computerized technologies, and even to technologies that change attitudes and behaviors by accident.

This idea of unintended persuasive outcomes is one reason we are revisiting this topic four years after the publication of an earlier piece by one of the authors, “Toward an Ethics of Persuasive Technology.” [Berdichevsky & Neuenschwander, 1999] Since 1999, persuasive elements have become common enough in both hardware and software—and especially on the web—that designers may not always be conscious of their persuasive nature. They may take them for granted. This telephone beeps to remind you to check your voice mail; that search engine changes its logo every day in a continuing narrative to pull you back more often . But even when persuasion is incidental to other design motives, it requires ethical attention—particularly because end users may not be expecting it and are therefore caught with their defenses down. [Fogg, 2002]

Why pay special attention to computerized persuasive technologies? The chief reason is that while non-computerized technologies can certainly be persuasive, only rarely can they stand on their own . A television with no infomercial to display will not convince you to buy new cutlery. A whip without someone to wield it will cow no slave into obedience. Even a carpool lane requires enforcement.

What makes computerized persuasive technologies more interesting than these examples is that they can persuade independently. Computerized persuasive technologies are also dynamic, changing in response to different users and their inputs. They allow persuasion—and the persuasive experience—to be simultaneously mass-manufactured and user-specific. For instance, a wristwatch that encourages you to keep running by congratulating you on the specific number of calories you have burned is completely self-contained. This leads to questions of agency: do you blame the wristwatch if a runner suffers a heart attack trying to achieve a certain pulse?

The full article can be accessed here 

Jun 01, 2006


Re-blogged from Smart Mobs 

Following the New York Times story on "audio illusion, phantom phone rings or ringxiety and fauxcellarm" - described as the new reason for people to either bemoan the techno-saturation of modern life or question their sanity, News.com.au via Engadget now claims the phenomenon - of falsely believing you hear your mobile phone ringing or vibrating - is so widespread it has an official name: "ringxiety" and it's really the subconscious calculating how popular we are.

David Laramie, from California's School of Professional Psychology, who coined the termed ringxiety and says he himself is a sufferer.

More on phanthom vibrations and phanthom rings in Ringtonia.

May 02, 2006

Does subliminal advertising work?

Via Kurzweilai.net


Researchers have shown that subliminal advertising may work after all..

New Scientist: It was a stunt that launched a thousand conspiracy theories. Market researcher James Vicary claimed in 1957 that he could get movie-goers to "drink Coca-Cola" and "eat popcorn" by flashing those messages on the screen for such a short time that viewers were unaware of it. People were outraged, and the practice was banned in the UK, Australia and the US.

Vicary later admitted that his study was fabricated, and scientists through the years who have tried to replicate it have largely failed. But now researchers have shown that if the conditions are right, subliminal advertising to promote a brand can be made to work.


Read the full article




Apr 25, 2006

Is technology changing our brains?

From Smart Mobs

Neuro-biologist Susan Greenfield asked this interesting question:


" In just a couple of decades, we have slipped away from a culture based essentially on words to one based essentially on images, or pictures. This is probably one of the great shifts in the story of modern humans but we take it almost for granted.

There can be little doubt that the structures, never mind the surface form, of the English language are changing fast.

The process of traditional book-reading, which involves following an author through a series of interconnected steps in a logical fashion. We read other narratives and compare them, and so "build up a conceptual framework that enables us to evaluate further journeys... One might argue that this is the basis of education ... Traditional education, she says, enables us to "turn information into knowledge."

Put like that, it is obvious where her worries lie. The flickering up and flashing away again of multimedia images do not allow those connections , and therefore the context, to build up. ...

Apr 21, 2006

Electronic media causing ADHD?

From Mind Hacks

Neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield was featured on Radio 4's Today Programme this morning [realaudio] arguing that children are being medicated for ADHD when the problem might be caused by the over-use of 'electronic media' leading to short attention spans...

read the full post 

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