From CS 160 User Interfaces Sp10
It’s the New Year, and you’ve made your usual New Year’s resolutions. Like every year, you resolve to get into better shape. You’ve purchased a gym membership, and have been going regularly, but you’re worried you’re not eating right. You did some research and found that keeping a log of what you eat is the best way to keep track. You try to keep a small notebook and pen with you at all times, but it has been cumbersome. What can you do to make it easier?
Target User Group
The target user group is any one with some sort of fitness goals. A user can be looking to lose weight, build muscle, tone up, etc. The user can be an average Joe trying to get rid of their love handles, an athlete training for the new season, or even a body builder preparing for competition. Regardless of goals, diet is a huge factor in changing your body. Just because you work out does not give you the right to eat whatever you want. It’s estimated that 41% of Americans are on some sort of diet. A quick and easy way to keep track of your caloric intake would help many Americans stay on track and reach their goals.
Diets can be difficult and challenging. People are often not allowed to eat their favorite foods or eat satisfying portions. Unfortunately, unsuccessful diets are not uncommon. A frequent problem is the lack of knowledge or false perception of the caloric content of foods. Dieters may be surprised at how many calories are in the foods they eat, and these extra calories add up quickly. For example, people forget to take into account their sugary drinks like soda or lemonade, with 100 or more calories per 8 ounces, and the high caloric content of salads because of they are drenched with salad dressings packing over 150 calories each serving of 2 tablespoons.
In addition, it’s difficult to remember exactly what you ate, so nutritionists and diet websites often suggest purchasing a physical journal and recording what you eat in the journal. However, today, people are busier and often on-the-go. People may forget to bring the journal with them and it may be burdensome to keep the journal with them. After recording what you ate, if you don’t have access to nutrition information, you will have to wait until you do to record the calories of your meal. Conveniently on your phone and with access to a comprehensive database of nutritional information, this application takes care of all of these problems.
Problem Context and Forces
Motivation is one of the biggest factors in the success of a diet. To help keep dieters motivated, the app should be as easy to use as possible. If the app is difficult to use, the user will likely stop using it, and as a result, may begin to eat incorrectly. Also, the app could perhaps provide some words of encouragement when the user needs it, like when they are thinking of breaking the diet. The app may be able to set some milestones, and once the milestones are reached, could provide the user a coupon to a healthy treat. If users are self-conscious about being on a diet, the app would not be as obvious as a pen and a journal. It will seem as if the user is just sending a text message or checking the news.
Diets often fail because of the lack of variety or taste of foods allowed by the diet. The app could also suggest healthy, but flavorful foods that the user has not eaten. In addition, it is not recommended to skip meals. According to many schools of thought, it is better to eat more meals, but in smaller portions. The app could also send reminders about eating meals, when a meal time arrives. Also, it may suggest snacks in between meals as well.
Additional features for the app, or could be implemented in a companion app would be an exercise feature. There are approximations for number of calories burned for various activities, so they could be factored in the total calories burned in a day. In addition, a step counter could be implemented as well, using the hardware’s accelerometer. Step counters were popular a few years ago, and would be another metric used for goal-making purposes.
There are a few options on the market already, but the closest app to what I propose would be the Livestrong Calorie Tracker app .