Microsoft student devs aim to hit you in the pocket if you don’t exercise

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Students at Microsoft’s eighth summer school hack lab in the Russian city of Kazan have thought of a novel way to motivate lazy fitness tracker wearers to get out there and exercise.

Using a fitness tracker of their own design, they proposed to transfer a sum from your account directly to a charity if you fail to meet your fitness goals.

“Our summer schools are an opportunity to expose students to the latest technologies in computer science,” said Judith Bishop, director of computer science, who organized the weeklong program held in July. “In order to obtain, analyze and use information from sensors of all different kinds, knowledge of broad range of underlying technology is essential. The students were eager to learn from experts in IoT.”

60 mostly postgraduate students took part in the event, and other groups  configured new applications for indoor spaces using sensors to control background lighting, to measure tiny fluctuations in the height of skyscrapers or to adjust the microclimate for indoor houseplants while another used sensors for educational purposes. Students hypothesized that learning to play the guitar might be easier if people received tactile feedback triggered whenever they made a mistake, such as strumming the wrong note. So they configured a bracelet to vibrate in response to user error. Conversely, a silent bracelet effectively signaled that the student was playing correctly.

The fitness tracker team was inspired by behavioural economics, but I wonder if the warm glow of knowing you are supporting the needy will actually work against going out in the rain for your daily run.

Read more about the event, which ran in July, here.

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