A good night's sleep, a balance between stress and relaxation, a healthy diet and sufficient exercise are all important factors when it comes to leading a healthy life. There are already tried-and-tested coaching programs available to help people adopt a healthy lifestyle. The focus of the Partnership program entitled 'Healthy Lifestyle Solutions' by Technology Foundation STW ('Technologiestichting STW'), the National Initiative Brain & Cognition ('Nationaal Initiatief voor Hersenen en Cognitie (NIHC)') and Philips Research lies on making these methods available in digital form, i.e. through e-coaching. Over the next five years five different research projects will develop digital solutions to help people adopt a healthier lifestyle. STW and NIHC together are contributing 1.5 million euros, whilst Philips Research is contributing 1.5 million euros.
The projects that have been chosen range from the reduction of physical stress in pregnant women to the development of personal sleep recommendations. They do, however, all have one thing in common: they aim to combine tried-and-tested coaching techniques with digital technologies in order to make it possible to apply e-coaching on an individual basis. This will enable a coach to encourage, motivate and support people remotely and online whilst they continue to go about their daily lives. It will require new developments in technology, such as new network and sensor technologies that will deliver the necessary data to the automated coaching program so that it can provide coaching and guidance. The motto for e-coaching is 'measure, monitor and motivate'. It is important that the individual does not find the e-coaching method to be a burden, and it has to be completely acceptable on an ethical level. Coaching people to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle will not only benefit the individuals themselves, it will also help to reduce healthcare costs by keeping people healthier as they grow older.
The five research projects
The five projects accepted for the program were chosen from no less than 86 project proposals that were submitted. All projects involve a combination of scientific behavioral research and new technology-based resources that will need to be developed and validated.
- “Less stress for pregnant women through mindfulness training and/or HRV biofeedback”, prof.dr. Anja C. Huizink, Educational Sciences, Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam (UvA). The aim of the project is to develop a method that is based on mindfulness training and feedback on heart rate variation in an effort to reduce physical stress during pregnancy. This is expected to promote a healthy development of the unborn child.
- “Promoting effective intentions: volitional scaffolding, implementation intentions and bedtime procrastination”, dr. Joel H. Anderson, Department of Philosophy − Practical Philosophy at the University of Utrecht. The aim of the project is to develop an e-coaching strategy that will help people on an individual basis to go to bed on time.
- “Active2Gether: smart coaching strategies that integrate social networks and modern technology to empower young people to be physically active”, dr. Saskia J. te Velde, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research at Amsterdam University (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). The aim of the project is to encourage people to adopt a more active lifestyle by using an automatic system of messaging and feedback using web-based social networks, modern mobile technology and the social environment.
- “Train your brain, think slim!”, Dr. Anne J. Roefs, Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Maastricht. The aim of this project is to develop an intelligent hardware/software system that alerts people automatically when they are about to eat something that is unhealthy: why do you want to eat this now and is it a good idea?
- “Sleep care: persuasive technology for personalized sleep coaching”, dr.ir. Robbert-Jan Beun, Center for Content & Knowledge Engineering, Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Utrecht. The aim of this project is to gain a better understanding of how people can teach themselves to sleep better using existing (hardware) technology and, in particular, how they can relax better before going to sleep.
The 'Healthy Lifestyle Solutions' partnership program
'Healthy Lifestyle Solutions' is one of the five partnership programs of Technology Foundation STW to help make scientific knowledge in the Netherlands available for solving specific problems that are pinpointed by industry. This research program has been set up together with Philips Research and National Initiative Brain & Cognition to make the link between behavioral sciences and technology in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. The five projects will each be carried out by one behavioral scientist and one technology researcher. The research will be carried out in the Netherlands, partly at the university and partly at Philips Research. Any e-coaching applications that are developed will be included in the Philips product portfolio.