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Towards More Meaningful Personal Tracking

Daniel Epstein

Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics, UC Irvine

Personal tracking through digital technologies like pedometers, mood monitoring apps, and food journaling apps has great potential to help people begin to change their behaviors, understand their habits, connect with others and advocate for their healthcare. But in practice, they have largely failed to deliver on their promise of helping people derive value from their health and wellbeing data, with majorities abandoning tracking within weeks or even days. A core challenge is that people often view the act of tracking as a meaningless experience, finding that tracking technology prioritizes behavior change over opportunity to create other meaningful experiences through personal satisfaction, connection, and communication. In this talk, I discuss how my research group has approached understanding how to make personal tracking more meaningful, and design strategies that we think provide for more meaningful tracking experiences. I will touch on opportunities for meaningful tracking we are examining in personal, social, and clinical settings.

BIO: Daniel Epstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Computer Science. His work examines how personal tracking technology can acknowledge and account for the realities of everyday life, designing new technology and studying people’s use of current technology. Daniel has published over 30 articles in top HCI venues including CHI, Ubicomp, and CSCW, receiving multiple awards and nominations. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science & Engineering from the University of Washington in 2018. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and Snap Inc.