Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are one of the major causes of death worldwide. Personal behavior such as physical activity considerably influences the risk of incurring a CVD. In the last years numerous products such as pedometers have become available on the mass market that allow monitoring relevant behaviors and vital parameters. These devices are sufficiently precise, affordable, and easy to use. While today they are mostly lifestyle oriented they also have considerable potential for health and prevention.
Objective: Our goal is to investigate how recent low-cost devices can be used in real-life settings for the prevention of CVD, and whether using these devices has an advantage over subjective self-assessment. We also examine whether it is feasible to use multiple of such devices in parallel.
Methods: We observe whether and how persons are willing and able to use multiple devices in their daily lives. We compare the devices’ measurements with subjective self-assessment. We make use of existing low-cost consumer devices to monitor a user's behavior. By mapping the devices' features with pre-defined prevention goals we ensure that the system collects meaningful data that can be used to monitor the individual's behavior. We conducted a user study with 10 healthy adults to measure usability and to identify problems with sensor use in real life. The participants used the devices' original portals to monitor their behavior. The subjects (age range 35-75) used an off-the-shelf pedometer and a sports watch for 4 weeks.
Results: The participants responded in principle positively to the use of the devices. Analyzing the sensor data, we found that the users had some difficulties in operating the devices. We also found that the participants' self-assessment of their health behavior was too optimistic compared to the monitored data. They rated the usability of the overall system with 71 of up to 100 points in the "System Usability Scale".
Conclusions: Our study indicates that today's devices are suitable for a long term monitoring of health for the prevention of CVD. Using the devices provides more precise data than a subjective self-assessment. However usability and acceptance of the systems are still major topics.