BreakSense

Combining Physiological and Location Sensing to Promote Mobility during Work-Breaks.

BreakSense is a mobile application that uses a Bluetooth beacon infrastructure, a smartphone and a smartwatch to encourage mobility during breaks with a game-like design.

Improving wellbeing and productivity in the workplace are important goals for both individuals and employers. Getting adequate physical activity can reduce an individual’s risk of developing chronic conditions and lower healthcare costs for employers. We investigate how technology can promote short physical work breaks for two purposes: 1) encouraging physical movement, and 2) packaging the physical break into an activity that takes the worker’s mind away from their work.

We designed and built BreakSense, a mobile/wearable application that detects when a worker leaves their work area and proposes short indoor-location-based challenges to increase physical activity without interrupting work. BreakSense uses Bluetooth beacons embedded in the environment to enable playful interactions at specific locations inside the workplace. We conducted a short deployment of BreakSense within FXPAL that examined bound vs. unbound augmented breaks and how they affect users’ sense of completion and readiness to work.

Related Publications

2017

Abstract

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Work breaks can play an important role in the mental and physical well-being of workers and contribute positively to productivity. In this paper we explore the use of activity-, physiological-, and indoor-location sensing to promote mobility during work-breaks. While the popularity of devices and applications to promote physical activity is growing, prior research highlights important constraints when designing for the workplace. With these constraints in mind, we developed BreakSense, a mobile application that uses a Bluetooth beacon infrastructure, a smartphone and a smartwatch to encourage mobility during breaks with a game-like design. We discuss constraints imposed by design for work and the workplace, and highlight challenges associated with the use of noisy sensors and methods to overcome them. We then describe a short deployment of BreakSense within our lab that examined bound vs. unbound augmented breaks and how they affect users’ sense of completion and readiness to work.
2016

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Taking breaks from work is an essential and universal practice. In this paper, we extend current research on productivity in the workplace to consider the break habits of knowledge workers and explore opportunities of break logging for personal informatics. We report on three studies. Through a survey of 147 U.S.-based knowledge workers, we investigate what activities respondents consider to be breaks from work, and offer an understanding of the benefit workers desire when they take breaks. We then present results from a two-week in-situ diary study with 28 participants in the U.S. who logged 800 breaks, offering insights into the effect of work breaks on productivity. We finally explore the space of information visualization of work breaks and productivity in a third study. We conclude with a discussion of implications for break recommendation systems, availability and interuptibility research, and the quantified workplace.