Why we built and launched an iPhone application for getfit@mit

Why we built and launched an iPhone application for getfit@mit

The MIT big data Living Lab team is partnering with the MIT Medical getfit@MIT fitness challenge team to develop a mobile activity logger.

Every spring semester, MIT Medical runs a getfit@mit challenge to encourage fitness at MIT. For the challenge, participants join teams and log their activities to the getfit@mit website.

The challenge had been running since 2004, but lacked a mobile presence. In November of 2014, the Living Lab partnered with getfit@mit to develop an iOS application. As of March of 2015, we released an app to the app store!

So about this app… What’s it do? Why did you do it? And what’s to come? Let’s get right into it.

What’s the app do?

The app is built for two audiences.

For end-users, the app is a  convenient way to track exercises. In addition to these logging tools, it includes new charts and graphs for users to analyze fitness progress. This is important for iPhone users, since the current GetFit website uses flash, which is incompatible with iOS.

For the Living Lab, the GetFit app is an opportunity to work on a MIT project aligned with our core mission to explore technical issues and social implications of big data on campus; and to better understand how we can leverage data on campus to improve quality of life.

The app makes use of two technologies emerging from MIT: The DataHub platform, and the OpenSense library.

The DataHub platform is a hosted database system and interface developed at MIT’s CSAIL. It provides a repository for user data, and allows users to own, edit, share, and delete it at will.

The OpenSense library is a data-collection program written at DTU and the MIT BigData LivingLab. It provides user-adjustable tools for apps to collect phone sensor data.

By using these two systems, the living lab is demonstrating systems that provide services to the MIT community, testing systems involving large scale access control and visualizations, and demonstrating new approaches to managing data privacy.

What’s to come?

Now that we have an app in our users’ hands, we’re working to make it even better.

Automatic Annotations

With the data that the app is collecting, we hope automatically annotate our users’ exercise — Instead of logging into GetFit and entering that they walked 10 minutes, users will be pleasantly surprised to see the data appear there immediately after their walks.

Education tools

This app uses new systems under research and development at MIT to collect and store data.  The data the app collects is no different from that of other similar applications like Fidbit, Moves, Apple HealthKit, or Google Fit. Users are already able to directly interact with their data via DataHub, but as the application matures, they will have more opportunities to learn from their data.

The app currently asks users to agree to participate in a study using DataHub.  We aim to help educate users with examples and explanations of what data is collected and how we use it.

User Surveys and additional studies:

We have the opportunity to partner with the Human Dynamics group from the MIT Media lab to survey GetFit users about their moods. Combined with existing activity and sensor data, this will give us some very useful metrics for happiness on campus. We can’t want to see what turns up next.

The GetFit app is for iPhone 5+. Download it at at livinglab.mit.edu/getfit-app. Learn more about it at livinglab.mit.edu/getfit-faq