A life coach in your pocket

Summary:Accenture Technology Labs wants to develop applications that will turn a mobile phone into a customised personal coach

...ever more sophisticated wireless sensors — into a new type of service channel, personalised to the immediate context and needs.

With the advent of the new generation of mobile platforms and applications, the challenge now is to explore how this can improve the way we work and live; for example, by enabling people to develop a better understanding of their own behaviour, they can begin to improve their personal and professional effectiveness.

As a result, these services could take human performance enhancement to a new level. Traditional training teaches the right thing to do — and then hopes that the trainee executes it correctly (the "say and pray" technique). In contrast, the personal performance coach can measure behaviour against goals, and then alert the user when the execution is veering off course. The technology will eventually go beyond tracking simple conversation patterns, to helping users see subtler cross-contextual issues. For example, it might help a user realise his behaviour becomes less effective when he skips lunch, or that he interrupts people less after a good night's sleep.

Taking mobility further
We can foresee companies in a wide variety of industries exploiting the enhanced awareness of the body, behaviour and physical environment afforded by these devices, and using it to help their employees improve their personal performance or lifestyles. For example, a healthcare company might offer a service that would help someone detect if they were eating healthily, meeting exercise goals they'd set for themselves or suffering from higher blood pressure than normal, and would then make real-time suggestions to address the problem.

The next step for us is to help content providers develop applications, and to provide the necessary back-end data services.

As technologies such as MPSP mature, they will help companies improve productivity, operate more intelligently and capture new market opportunities. But perhaps their greatest impact will be at the individual level, by helping people to become more effective — whether they are trying to develop into more successful negotiators or enjoy happier, healthier lives.

Alex Kass is a researcher at Accenture Technology Laboratories, California.

Topics: Tech Industry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.