Project 3: Future Humans

OVERVIEW

Approximately 68 percent of adults are overweight or obese (1). Being overweight and obese increases one’s risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers, and much more (2). The most effective way to lower the amount of obesity is through diet and exercise.

Trends in obesity and overweight individuals from 1960 to 2006.

The health industry has a lot of room to grow from innovation. In the past 45 years, gyms have not changed very much in their appearance. Usually, a gym will have a free weights area, a machine weight area, and a cardio area of machines like treadmills and ellipticals. There have not been truly innovative applications from technology to the gym experience.  We feel that the current gym experience is often inconvenient, confusing, and unmotivating.  

For our project, we are redesigning the gym experience. The new gym experience will be an in-home gym for added convenience. We will be focusing on the following aspects to augment the gym experience: 

Notes from the brainstorming session of Future Healthy You.

Storage

Because this is an in home-gym, maximizing storage of the gym itself is critical in allowing the user to have a multi-purpose space. Therefore, a compact in-home gym with creative storage solutions will afford users to partake in the gym experience that normally would not have the space for an in home gym. In addition, the in home gym set up and storage will be entirely automated so that the user does not need to waste time setting up the gym or storing the gym after a workout. 

Sensors 

There will be sensors on the gym equipment itself and nano-sensors for the humans. The gym equipment sensors will be able to communicate with the central computer program in order to help the program determine if proper form is being used. The nano-sensors will be prescribed by a doctor and ingested by drinking a tasteless liquid. The nano-sensors will be able to alert the program about the current physical state of the user. This data will be used to determine if the user needs to be motivated to work harder or if the exercise needs to be performed with less intensity. In addition, the nano-sensors will have technology that will enable injury prevention mechanisms. Lastly, these nano-sensors will be able to track the nutrition components of what people are eating. 

Machine Learning

Machine Learning will be an integral part to the gym. Machine learning will be applied to multiple scenarios. For example, machine learning will be used in order to act as a trainer for the user. The program will be able to recommend workouts, teach the user how to perform movements, analyze incorrect body movements, and learn how to best motivate the user. In addition, the machine will automatically set the resistance and number of reps to be completed, or speed for cardio activities, so that they user does not need to remember the amount of weight and number of sets that they performed last time. The nano-sensors will give data to the machine learning program that will inform Lastly, the program will be able to generate workouts that the user will be more likely to enjoy based on prior feedback.  

CHALLENGES & SCOPE

This new gym will be feasible in 75 years. We expect the nano-sensors to take the longest to be developed and approved, which is farther discussed in the “How We Get There” section. 

Because there is the potential for serious injury, the computer program that analyzes body movements must be very accurate and precise. In addition, the program needs to be able to understand how to best motivate users, which is a highly individualized matter that may not be easily predicted. As discussed prior, the nano-sensors will be the most complex component to develop. With an ingestible sensor, there will surely be challenges in gaining approval from government agencies and then getting approval from users. We would need to be able to convince users of the benefits that the sensors provide and show that these benefits outweigh any potential concerns over things like privacy. Lastly, our in-home gym experience will require the expertise of many professions such as computer programmers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, human factors engineers, physicians, and personal trainers. 

USER PSYCHOLOGY & PERSONAE

For our user profiles, we considered two “types” of people that the Future Healthy You would be marketed to. It is assumed that both user profiles are not gender-specific. One group was young professionals in their twenties with a stable income and regular work schedule.  These people were assumed to already regularly workout and would be more interested in the efficiency and convenience aspects of the Future Healthy You device.  These people would not be significantly concerned about the cost of the device and would not be bothered by its technologically complex nature.

The other type of person the Future Healthy You would be marketed to is a person that has little experience independently exercising and is looking to be more in shape.  Though this can apply to all ages, the user profile shown below (for Charles Smith) depicts an older person with less technology experience.   This is because our device will be marketed specifically to be usable by people with less technology experience.  Though this will be in the future, and so the computer side and machine learning aspects may be less intimidating, the nanotechnology feature may be intimidating to older users (since we believe that the nanotechnology would be a newer technology).  By getting the support of various medical professionals, and by making our device be easy-to-use (requiring little technological knowledge from the user), we should be able to assuage the concerns of the older generation. 

The main appeal of the device for this second group is that the device is able to help people with little exercise experience workout safely and effectively.  For the elderly, safety is an even more important factor, since too-intense exercises could result in serious harm. 

Additionally, based on current trends of people with little exercise experience being willing to try new fads and diets, we think the Future Healthy You would be relatively easy to market to this group.  Also, people trying to get in shape for the first time are often intimidated (4). to go to the gym if they have no exercise experience or are self-conscious about their body image.  The private nature of these workouts would be reassuring to this demographic.

To this group we would market the convenience of going at your own pace and the efficiency of the workouts. 

SOLUTION & INPUTS

Brainstorming of specific solutions for Future Healthy You.
Brainstorming of specific solutions for Future Healthy You.

Please click below to download Future Healthy You task analysis.

The Future Healthy You system will be part of a smart home in the future.  In the future, humans will still need to stay in shape, however, going to the gym will be a thing of the past.  Instead, the design team envisions that users will work out in the comfort of their homes. 

Instead of needing to use various types of machines, barbells, dumbbells, weights and cardio equipment, there will be an elegant, all-in-one solution that meets both resistance and cardio requirements will be seamlessly integrated into a user’s space.  This will allow the user to meet all of their work out needs in an efficient manner.  In addition, since most users have limited experience with exercise physiology and human performance science, a specialized sensor system will be part of the system which is managed by trained physicians to automatically provide the most efficient and targeted training possible. 

The Future Healthy You system consists of three main parts:

  1. An interactive screen and resistance system mounted on the wall
  2. A treadmill like surface built into the floor that comes up out of the floor as needed
  3. An ingestible nanosensor system that monitors every aspect of the user’s performance and provides feedback via machine learning in a seamless manner

This system is our vision for how future humans will exercise their bodies in approximately 50-75 years.  The core of the Future Healthy You system is the specialized nanosensor drink, which is prescribed by a doctor and ingested.  By including a physician in the design, the user can be ensured that they are eliminating risk and getting the most effective information provided to them.  The nanosensors will enable the system to track every aspect of the user’s performance and use big data and machine learning to provide salient feedback for the user.  The nanosensor drink is also the reason the system is estimated to be 50-75 years in the future.  While other aspects of this system will most likely exist much sooner, the design team does not believe nanotechnology will have matured to point needed until the timeline stated.

As part of the system design, the team performed a high level task analysis on various aspects of the system.  Some aspects of the system did not need extremely detailed task analysis (such as picking up prescription and taking it) and are noted as such in the attached excel document.  For each task, the team looked at the whether any information, decision, action or analysis was needed and noted them in the task analysis excel sheet.  Finally, for each task, the team estimated the level of automation using a 1-10 scale and noted then in the task analysis excel sheet as well.

The system will require a high level of machine learning to provide users with the feedback imagined.  If anything were possible, then our future nanosensors would be a one-time drink users ingested that would monitor every cell in their bodies.  The sensors would provide information for calories burned,  hydration/caloric requirements, injury, form, power output, and any other pertinent information that may be required.  Machine learning would then take all of this data and provide users with highly tailored, specific feedback such as:

  • Increase/decrease resistance
  • Increase/decrease speed
  • Hydrate
  • Change form, de-load resistance or stop exercise to prevent injury

Since the system would be part of a highly connected network, the system could automatically perform some of the changes listed above, such as increase/decreases loads or speeds. 

The inspiration for this system came from two physical systems that are already in development at this point in time.  One is called Tonal and the other is called Mirror, shown below, respectively. 

USER WALKTHROUGH & USER INTERFACE

For the Future Healthy You, there are two modes of communication between the user and the device.  First, the device itself has a screen to convey information to the user during the workouts.  Since exercising often requires the use of your hands, this screen would also be able to process and provide vocal communication. 

The display would be able to be tailored to meet a user’s specific needs as they use the device.  For example, the color scheme can be changed to suit the user’s preferences.  There would also be daytime and nighttime modes that make it easier for the device to be used at any time of day. 

An example default screen is shown below.  Here, the user can view information about what exercise they are doing, how far along into that specific exercise they are, and how far along they are in their overall workout.  There is information about music at the top of the screen, as many individuals like to listen to music while they exercise.  These features can be hidden in the settings menu to make the display less complex for those who are overwhelmed by multiple sources of information. 

Some people, especially if they are familiar with the exercises and have no need for the videos, can select the heart icon on the left in order to display their health data (they can also provide a voice command if they want to switch between screens mid-workout). 

This screen (shown below) displays relevant health information in a format similar to a bar graph.  As the user is exercising, the display would show the current physical states being registered by the nanotechnology.  Since the units are different for the various health states, they are listed above each pillar in the plot, rather than along the vertical axis.  If the health data is in the acceptable range (the acceptable range is determined using information available to the computer), then the data is presented the color green.

However, if a parameter is outside of the acceptable range, the pillar is displayed in red, has a warning sign (an “!”) appear on the plot, and a warning message appear below the plot, as well.  During this, the workout would also release an auditory warning, if that is what the user requests.  It is important to have multiple representations of potential danger on the screen and via speakers to avoid liability and to best help the user have a safe workout.  The user would be notified that the workout is automatically being altered to try and help get their health readings within safe levels. 

If there is a warning due to health data, but the human knows they are alright, they are able to vocally override the changes to their workout, following the written and auditory instructions coming from the device.  The machine then takes this knowledge and adjusts its parameters accordingly, using machine learning.  It also makes a note in the app so that the information can be shown to a physician at a user’s annual physical.  Sometimes sensors have glitches, or a human just has a different than normal reaction to exercise.  This ability to override the machine despite health warnings allows the human a sense of control over their workouts, while still letting the machine do the majority of the work.  Since humans are trusted to be responsible for their own safety when working out using exercise equipment, we thought this was an acceptable feature to include in the device.  It is hoped that this will help reduce errors and allow the device to be tailored to each user.  

The user would be able to control their workout schedule and view their health data history on their phone (this information would also be available via the device itself).  

Through the phone, the user would get alerts a short time before they are scheduled to work out (this is so the user knows whether or not if they will be able to actually exercise that day). 

The user would either accept or reject their schedule workout.  If they accept the workout, they proceed to go to the Future Healthy You device and begin the workout. 

If they reject the workout, they are prompted to schedule a new time to work out (if for some reason they do not want to reschedule, they can opt out of this feature, but it is the default setting in order to encourage keeping people to their workout goals). 

For rescheduling, they go through three pages in the app.  The first page is the calendar page, where the user selects a new date.  They do this by tapping the date they want to reschedule to.  All current workouts are highlighted by colored circles, and when a new date is selected, that is also shown in a colored circle.  In the example below, the user works out four times a week, and so there are initially three dates shown on the screen. 

The user selected Tuesday, March 11 as the new workout date.  

From here, the user clicks the right arrow next to the calendar icon near the top of the screen (highlighted below). 

The user is directed to schedule a time for their new workout. 

The arrow is tapped again.

Now, the user explains their reasons for skipping their workout.  Though this is not necessary, any information they provide can be used by the Future Healthy You system to improve the workout schedule using machine learning.  The drop-down menu is also updated based on previous responses that the user has provided, to make it easier and quicker for them to provide feedback. 

In the example shown below, the user selects “Other”, and types an explanation into the text box. 

The user can also access their health data within their phone.  There are a number of categories of information presented.  The screen below shows information regarding the number of steps of the user.  This is shown on a plot with the vertical axis being the number of steps and the horizontal axis being the date.  The user can choose to “friend” people who also use the device, and pick if their data is available to those friends (the user can give permission for all or only some types of their data, in case there is a limit to what they are comfortable sharing). 

The user can pick which data is shown in the plot by flipping the switch next to a username.  In the figure above, the data for Jenna Johnson is shown in yellow, and the information for Carla Summers is shown in green.  By selecting on a data point, the exact number of steps is shown. 

This sharing feature allows the user to still feel like exercising is a way to be connected with people, even if they are not physically near them.   Since this data-sharing feature is optional, it is also avoids making users feel forced to compete. 

The figure below shows the sample menu of health data available to the user.  Though the presentation of data might be a different type of plot, the overall layout of the page should remain the same.  This page is reached by swiping right in any of the health screens, or by clicking the menu symbol in the top left corner of the screen. 

When the user opens the app on their own for the first time after installation, the phone will automatically walk the user through a brief and efficient tutorial on how to use the device. 

The device itself will be set up with the help of either a virtual assistant or an in-person employee, depending on the preference of the user.  Either way, the user will be guided through the steps on how to use the Future Healthy You device, and will have help setting up their initial health goals and beginning their workout plan. 

HOW WE GET THERE

To get to our envisioned system from where we are currently, the real work lies in the nano-sensor field. As stated previously, this is what we see taking the longest to develop. Currently there are no nano-sensors that can remain in a human, fully powered, detecting everything outlined above, and transmitting data. However, scientists and engineers continue to push nanotechnology to new heights and the team believes, given enough time, everything outlined above is achievable. The first challenge will be making a nano-sensor that can stayed powered on and in the body. Once that is done, the next challenge will be making the nano-sensors connected and able to transmit far enough to provide useful data outputs. Finally, the actual sensors will have to be refined to provide the data required as outlined above. In 50-75 years, we may actually be there.

First, it is important for the user to provide knowledgeable consent to what they are agreeing to.  Since we are assuming nano-sensors will be a newer form of technology, there is not going to be much general knowledge that the public will automatically know.  The user must not only consent to the health risks of the procedure (even though these risks should be minimal, there is always the possibility for error), the user must also consent to the fact that data about their body is being collected and wirelessly transmitted.  Though there isn’t the risk of “hacking” the user’s body and altering their behavior in any way, the health information collected could become available to others. 

It is also important to make sure that the nano-sensors are considered safe for human use.  This would require extensive tests before ever getting to the human trial stage.  When the device is released for public use, it is important that the Future Healthy You producers are able to confidently provide evidence that there is minimal health risk to any users. 

Since the information about the health process is so critical, it is important that the company be open with doctors about how the nano-sensors work.  This is more important than “trade secrets” or “intellectual property”.  To protect the company’s profits, doctors would ideally sign a confidentiality agreement saying they would not share any information about the way the technology works, provided that no harm is being posed to anyone. 

There are other ethical factors to consider when designing medical devices and exercise equipment.  The device has the potential to promote body image issues.  Though this isn’t the devices intention, that is something that doctors should be looking out for when completing their evaluation.  This is not the responsibility of the company to address, but their ads should focus on the health benefits, not on the weight-loss aspect (though this device has a weight-loss option, it is intended to be for health-driven purposes, not body-image ones). 

Finally, it was discussed in the ENP 162 course that elderly people struggle to get sufficient social interaction.  For some, it may be that the Future Healthy Human device promotes them to avoid socializing by attending an exercise class.  Again, this is not the responsibility of the company, but is something that doctors should be asked to consider before granting a user access to the device and nano-sensors. 

ETHICAL & SOCIETAL CONSIDERATIONS

Since the Future Healthy You system involves the medical procedure of putting sensors indefinitely into the human body (though not a surgery, this process still would count as a medical procedure) there are many ethical issues to consider. 

First, it is important for the user to provide knowledgeable consent to what they are agreeing to.  Since we are assuming nano-sensors will be a newer form of technology, there is not going to be much general knowledge that the public will automatically know.  The user must not only consent to the health risks of the procedure (even though these risks should be minimal, there is always the possibility for error), the user must also consent to the fact that data about their body is being collected and wirelessly transmitted.  Though there isn’t the risk of “hacking” the user’s body and altering their behavior in any way, the health information collected could become available to others. 

It is also important to make sure that the nano-sensors are considered safe for human use.  This would require extensive tests before ever getting to the human trial stage.  When the device is released for public use, it is important that the Future Healthy You producers are able to confidently provide evidence that there is minimal health risk to any users. 

Since the information about the health process is so critical, it is important that the company be open with doctors about how the nano-sensors work.  This is more important than “trade secrets” or “intellectual property”.  To protect the company’s profits, doctors would ideally sign a confidentiality agreement saying they would not share any information about the way the technology works, provided that no harm is being posed to anyone. 

There are other ethical factors to consider when designing medical devices and exercise equipment.  The device has the potential to promote body image issues.  Though this isn’t the devices intention, that is something that doctors should be looking out for when completing their evaluation.  This is not the responsibility of the company to address, but their ads should focus on the health benefits, not on the weight-loss aspect (though this device has a weight-loss option, it is intended to be for health-driven purposes, not body-image ones). 

Finally, it was discussed in the ENP 162 course that elderly people struggle to get sufficient social interaction.  For some, it may be that the Future Healthy Human device promotes them to avoid socializing by attending an exercise class.  Again, this is not the responsibility of the company, but is something that doctors should be asked to consider before granting a user access to the device and nano-sensors. 

FUTURE DIRECTIONS & LIMITATIONS

For the purpose of this project, we focused mostly on the machine learning and sensors components of the home gym; however, as discussed in the introduction section, diet is also an integral part to achieving health and wellness goals. A future direction for this project would be to focus on how futuristic applications of machine learning could be applied to nutrition. In addition, our gym system still requires users to make the commitment to working out. We attempt to do this by using machine learning to produce workouts that they’re most likely to enjoy; however, we did not discuss ways to motivate users who are not interested in working out to begin with. A future direction would be to study applications of machine learning on how to get users into the gym that normally would not go to the gym. Our in home gym is confined by traditional gym experiences (lifting weights, treadmills, etc.) and we did not apply futuristic applications like virtual reality to creating alternative exercise experiences (f.e. hiking or playing sports). Lastly, we did not focus on the types of workouts themselves due to how individualized and specific they will be for each user.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228640/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228640/
  4. https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/06/20/Study-Americans-want-to-be-fit-but-dont-put-in-the-work/2821497970498/
  5. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/about-arrhythmia/tachycardia–fast-heart-rate
  6. https://biostrap.com/blog/know-your-blood-oxygen-saturation-levels/
  7. https://inbodyusa.com/blogs/inbodyblog/how-to-set-a-body-composition-goal-thats-right-for-you/
  8. http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Bloodpressurechart

1 Comment

  1. Hi Blake and team! The idea of using digestible nanosensors to transmit health information for the purpose of improving workouts is really interesting. Currently, there are many workout/health-related sensor devices but none as integrated as this. I liked how you kept it current by making an interface (it would be great to see these images bigger/in more detail). This addition would definitely make people more comfortable with the technology since they can see exactly what is being tracked. I agree one of the biggest concerns would be taking away the social aspect of exercising, however, I sympathize with the fear of judgment that this system negates. Overall, you did a great job outlining the technology and user experience! Nutrition seems like a logical future direction, and I can see this being very appealing to our generation!

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