Microsoft is in the business of finding answers to problems, and sometimes the problems are those that some of us didn’t know existed in the first place. The company may be onto something with a potential angle for fitness wearable devices. Fitness wearables are supposed to help people stay fit by telling them to keep moving or shoot for a goal, but it may now be possible to have a device tell you what to do as easily as just taking it off. Microsoft may have found a solution to make people listen to wearables by automatically donating the user’s money to charity if they don’t get off the couch and get their ass moving. It may sound outrageous, but it may just be what people need to start living an active lifestyle as no one really wants to lose money, even if it will go to charity.
The idea for a charitable fitness wearable came from Microsoft’s recently concluded eighth annual summer school in Kazan, Russia, where students are challenged to come up with ideas and build apps utilizing Internet of Things sensors and devices.
Some students used wristbands to make it easier for people to learn how to play the guitar. The wristband delivers tactile feedback, which is triggered when the wearer makes a mistake. Others wanted to create a wristband that truly motivates the wearer to get up and move.
According to one student’s account, “Originally we wanted to embed many lie detectors, which would work on the basis of an analysis of the skin temperature and other sensor readings.”
The students eventually decided that behavioral economics is the best route to motivate people to be more active. In theory, the wearable fitness tracker can be configured to automatically transfer money from a person’s bank account to a pre-determined charitable institution when a planned workout is not put into action.
No news yet if Microsoft will implement the feature in its fitness band, but having your funds siphoned, even if it’s going to a worthy cause, can get anyone off their couch -- or just simply throw away the fitness band or not use the band at all.
One has to wonder whether this kind of a negative reinforcement approach could find its way into useful enterprise applications and IT systems in general. It’s a tantalizing thought that if you could bring some sort of penalty into metrics-isolated scenarios, you can "gamify" performance. If so, things like service level agreements, response times, time to deployment, and other information-technology initiatives can be improved with the added benefit of providing support for charities.
Image source: Pixabay