All posts by Colin MacArthur

Can a Free Wearable Activity Tracker Change Behavior?

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM
  • Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM, Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Tuesday, September 12 at 6:30 PM
  • At Constant Contact, 1601 Trapelo Rd, Waltham, MA 02451

Please register. It helps us and our hosts plan.


Innovations in digital health have led to expensive toys, but have they improved health outcomes? Lisa Gualtieri will discuss the current landscape of wearable digital technology, and report on a series of studies on wearable activity tracker use in older adult populations; most notably, what was learned about acceptance and use of trackers that were provided free with training, and their impact on behavior change. She will also present on future directions her research is taking to potentially expand the usefulness of these devices as part of clinical care, to lower the prevalence of chronic disease within the US. Finally, she will showcase her non-profit, RecycleHealth, which she founded two years ago to collect trackers for underserved populations who need help improving on health behaviors. One such population includes veterans, a group of which will receive trackers as part of a wellness program through HutsForVets, with the aim to increase physical activity and improve mental health outcomes.

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Soft interactive surfaces for tangible and wearable user interfaces

Unfortunately, “Soft interactive surfaces for tangible and wearable user interfaces” has been canceled. Stay tuned for an announcement about our September talk.

Hugh Beyer
  • Jürgen Steimle, Professor, Saarland University and Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Informatics
  • Monday, June 19 at 6:30 PM
  • At IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center, 1 Rogers Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

Please register. It helps us and our hosts plan.


Central aspects of Mark Weiser’s vision of Ubiquitous Computing have become reality. However, the rigid nature of today’s interactive surfaces is limiting in several ways: it not only restricts the embedding of user interfaces in the physical environment, but also limits mobile use, interaction, and customization. These problems can be addressed through a research focus on future forms of interactive surfaces which are deformable, stretchable, and support multi-modal interactions.

This talk will give an overview of recent work on deformable sensor and output surfaces. Starting from sensors and displays on paper-like surfaces, it will introduce techniques for realizing interactive temporary tattoos. These conform to fine wrinkles and highly curved body locations, and turn the human skin into an input and output surface. Lastly, the talk will present approaches for making 3D printed objects interactive, by embedding conductive structures.

Together, these approaches demonstrate the potential of digital fabrication and printed electronics for realizing sensors and output in new form factors, which are compatible with highly individual geometries and custom user preferences.

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The UX Designer as Innovator

Hugh Beyer
  • Hugh Beyer, UX Product Manager, Cohealo, Inc.
  • Tuesday, May 9 at 6:30 PM
  • At Constant Contact, 1601 Trapelo Rd, Waltham, MA 02451

Please register. It helps us and our hosts plan.


The role of UX has always been to stand at a crossroads. UX requires translating technical capabilities into a visual and behavioral language the user can understand. Additionally, it requires translating user behavior and actions into design implications for a specific product. These tasks do not fall within the purview of the engineer or the product manager.

But the core of the UX job is not translation, it’s design: inventing new behavior and new capabilities, within the scope of a given technology and business model, to create new products. In other words, the UX job is to innovate. UX designers must speak up for innovation and design in an organization that hasn’t given them formal power and often doesn’t recognize their value.  This talk will show how UX can be the innovation engine for an organization. It will discuss the techniques and show the artifacts used to develop ideas and communicate them persuasively to the organization. It will show how to use these techniques opportunistically, guerrilla-fashion, as a UX practitioner.

Hugh will provide examples of driving innovation through UX design for cutting-edge technologies. As PM for a local startup he designed a 3D scanning solution that enabled a pivot to a new business model; he helped Cadillac do a ground-up rethink of their driver interface; at IBM he developed a new model for thinking about network protection that matches real-world security. In each situation, it was the unique perspective of the UX designer that made the difference.

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