A new tree every 10,000 steps
IoT device and app protect the health of users and of our planet
Centigrade developed a step tracking device including a companion iOS app for Walkolution. The digital solution records the users‘ steps and plants a new tree in the mutual company forest every 10,000 steps via web API.
Go for a better working world!
Every person's inner lazybones is strong.... very strong. It causes us to move too little during work and rather sit most of our time. Therefore, back pain has become a widespread disease that seems to grow together with omnipresent digitalization and permanent screen work. Dr. Eric Söhngen, a former medical doctor, has written a very successful book on the subject, in which he makes it very clear how bad and harmful constant sitting really is for us humans.
Rather than just writing about it, he went forward by developing the ergonomic treadmill that makes it possible to work at a computer screen while walking. With his own patents and his Walkolution treadmill his equally-named startup is the rising star in the ergonomics sky.
Walkolution's mission is to create an optimal workplace for health and comfort. The core product is a silent and motorless ergonomic treadmill that allows users to move slowly during normal desk work. This fundamentally challenges the prevailing sedentary lifestyle and offers a healthier and more sustainable alternative.
Centigrade was the optimal UX partner for this project, as they possess an unparalleled understanding of how to combine gamification expertise in the healthcare industry with aesthetic UI design and IoT prototyping.
Technological progress, but sustainable: A new tree via Web API
But empowering people to work digitally in a healthy way is not the only mission of the sustainably minded company.
With its 1 Million Trees campaign, Walkolution wants to give a whole lot back to the very planet. To bring this goal within reach, Walkolution plants a new tree via Tree Nation every 10,000 steps, allowing the "Walkolution Forest" to grow further and further with every active user.
But collecting 1 million steps is an ambitious goal. That's why Walkolution came up with the idea of developing a special steptracking de vice that records even the much more subtle step movements on the treadmill - a task that both smartphones and smartwatches or fitness wristbands fail miserably at.
More motivation to walk while working
As both a design-savvy and sustainability-minded company, Walkolution contacted Centigrade to accelerate its ambitious 10K step goal achievement. Centigrade was asked to design and prototype an IoT device that is able to capture steps more accurately than traditional smart devices. The focus of this IoT device was that the steps are recorded precisely and that the device can be combined with any other motorless treadmill, too.
The digital solution:
Precise tracking and gamification
Using IoT micro-controllers and 3D printing services, Centigrade built several prototypes suitable for early field testing. Starting with an inexpensive cardboard prototype, the Centigrade designers finally came up with a 3D case that is 3D printable and protects the sensitive micro-controller and time-of-flight sensor.
First prototype with cardboard housing
Second prototype with 3D printed housing
Technology is good, gamification is better
But the best technology is of no use if people are not motivated to actually use it. Centigrade therefore conducted extensive user research to find out which target group with which user needs and motivation profiles were to satisfy. With the help of the user requirements tool LeanScope, an accurate persona profile including a player type analysis was created and used as a foundation for the parallel app design.
The UX context analysis also revealed that a mutual goal as well as a productive work situation should be the focus of the solution development. Since modern employers cannot necessarily provide each colleague with their own Walkolution treadmill, the treadmill had been conceived by the designers as a "shared resource" from the very beginning. This allows different users to contribute to the 10,000 step goal together on the same treadmill, one after the other. On the one hand, this reduces the number of steps for each individual and on the other hand strengthens the team spirit among colleagues.
Pretty much best friends when things are going right: Connectivity and privacy
The key persona was defined as not necessarily being tech-savvy. Therefore, connecting the app with the steptracking device had to work as hassle-free as possible. Instead of relying on web technologies as in many other projects, Centigrade therefore opted for an iOS-native implementation including user testing via Testflight. As soon as a user steps near the treadmill, the steptracking device automatically connects with the Walkolution app via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and credits the steps to both the device and the user. In this way, users can keep track of their own step goals as well as the mutual team step goal. Users do not have to switch to the Bluetooth menu of their smartphone even once.
It was a conscious design decision to collect all usage data in a purely anonymous - and non-personal - fashion. This gives users the secure feeling that the employer could never use the tracked steps for personalized analyses. Only the users themselves know - via the Walkolution app on their private smartphone - how they personally contributed to the common step goal.
Impressive down to every branch
Instead of just textually showing the number of steps left until the next tree is going to be planted, Centigrade came up with a very special progress indicator: Each step fills up a tree silhouette, and users get a gorgeous visual feedback to understand how far away the next intermediate goal is. A parallax animation celebrates the planting of each new tree in stunning visual fashion.