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Smartphone as Mentor: How Tech Could Change Behavior


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WeeAddition is an application promoting healthful practices and lessons for pregnant women.

Students from a broad range of disciplines created apps to help users set and meet wellness milestones in a special class at the University of Michigan.

Credit: Joseph Xu

This fall, University of Michigan professor Jasprit Singh taught a class called Imagine, Innovate, Act!, in which students from the engineering, art, music, and health fields designed mobile apps to help users set and meet wellness milestones. "The goal of this course was to bring harmony between what we know and what we do," Singh says.

The students created apps that focused on delivering messages to users at a set time or place. For example, an app called Balance was designed to offer easy and routine access to short exercise videos that could improve coordination and prevent falls.

Another app, WeeAddition, guides women through pregnancy, while Joggle is a collaborative art, poetry, and music app that encourages creativity.

Another app, College Granny, aims to help students balance studying and socializing to develop healthy habits in both parts of their lives.

"The app would be able to have a constant, almost living presence in the user's life, and could thus help them form their decisions even more than if it were just a browsing app," says master's student Diana Sussman.

Singh thinks the course's concept could continue to grow with other programs because of the do-it-yourself nature of the class.

From University of Michigan News Service
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