Using the "Social fMRI" to investigate health and wellness mechanisms with mobile phones

A session at Strata Rx

Tuesday 16th October, 2012

2:05pm to 2:45pm (PST)

The Social fMRI is a novel methodology for measuring and designing social mechanisms using mobile phones, developed at the MIT Media Lab. Phones are used as social and behavioral sensors, which, when aggregated, can create a very rich multi-dimensional image of a living community over time. The approach allows for observing the lives of its members, as well as conducting highly controllable experimental interventions focusing on health and wellness topics.

In the first Social fMRI deployment, the “Friends and Family” study, we transformed a young-family residential community into a living laboratory for 15 months, through a very fine-grained and longitudinal data collection process combined with targeted experimental interventions. Using the derived dataset, which contains over one million hours of continuous data collection in unprecedented quality, we are able to investigate topics of health and wellness and real-world social dynamics. As part of the study, we also used the system to test new game mechanics for health using social insights, and we measured how different mechanisms affected the participants (such as rewards, seeing your own data, social information sharing, and mechanisms that encouraged social influence or social pressure). Our novel social incentive mechanism actually doubled participants everyday physical activity. During Winter, in Boston.

In this talk I will review the Social fMRI methodology, highlight surprising results from the longitudinal study, introduce our open source tools that let anyone conduct similar experiments, and discuss some of the experimental design consideration and lessons learned.

About the speaker

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Nadav Aharony

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Time 2:05pm2:45pm PST

Date Tue 16th October 2012

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