Student projects

The following research topics are available for students that want to do their bachelor- or masterproject. A exact project should be defined based on the skills and the program of a student.

Developing an interface to stimulate protein intake of elderly

In the PROMISS project, the goal is to reduce malnutrition among elderly. Within this project, a prototype of a simple food intake measurement system should has been built. This involves physical computing devices (e.g. Arduino boards and sensors). In addition, a computational model of the cognitive and behavioural aspects related to food intake for elderly has been developed. This is based on existing models for behaviour change. The model will form the basis for a persuasive system that provides personalized guidance to elderly to increase their protein intake.

The goal of this project is to design and develop a user interface that communicates with the older people to stimulate them to adhere to their dietary advices, based on the measurements about food intake.

Designing effective coaching strategies & gamification features in Android app for promoting physical activity

The epidemic of physical inactivity is a major health hazard in the modern society, therefore creating effective and innovative health programs and interventions is important. We developed an Android application that facilitates physically inactive users to connect with a real life coach to receive person-to-person social support. Our idea is to design an app and indulge inactives to use health & fitness apps, as there is a necessity to better understand their needs, and propose apps that they find useful. In the app, teams of two closely related persons (family,friends,partners) are formed, that can do joint exercises, indulge in real life communication and motivation (support). The team is composed of a coach that is a personal motivator for the coachee who wants to exercise or move more. The coach should give advices or guidance for performing physical activity, encouraging the coachee, indulge in performing exercises together.

For this master thesis project we are looking for students with interests (or experience) in Android programming, lifestyle informatics, cloud computing, physical activity analysis, in order to enrich the existing app and test the effectiveness of the proposed features.

The following topics of interest will be covered:

  • Create a virtual coaching system, as an alternative for the real-life approach. Developing virtual coach comes with several challenges: getting right messages at right time, understanding the individual needs of the user, understanding the context of the user.
  • Identifying effective coaching strategies for the coach – in the current app the coach is an regular non-trained person, so a virtual agent should train the coach and suggest effective coaching strategies. The challenge is to identify good coaching methods, and create a learning system that will be interesting for both the coach and the coachee.
  • Gamification in the app: investigate and test effective gamification elements that can be useful for both the coach and the coachee.
  • Extend the app with other social elements: for example social comparison can be included by enabling comparison of performance between different teams.

The idea of the project is to develop and furthermore test the new proposed methods in a real experimental setup, in order to learn about the effectiveness and acceptance of the developed features.

Projects to stimulate physical activity

The aim of the Supreme Nudge project is to evaluate two types of interventions. One is addressing the environment in supermarkets and the other is addressing physical activity behaviour. For this latter part, an app will be developed that provides highly tailored and personalised feedback in coaching in order to make users more physically active. This app will build further on experiences from a previous project (Active2Gether), but needs to be adapted to the target population of Supreme Nudge, which are adults with a low socio-economic background. Furthermore, new technological and communication features need to be incorporated in the app. For that several sub-studies will be conducted, in order to test feasibility and potential effectiveness. This part of the Supreme Nudge project is a joint research project of the VU University (department of artificial intelligence?), the University of Amsterdam (department of communication science?) and Te Velde Research

Project 1: Social fencing

Goal: investigate how mobile phone sensors and / or IoT technology can be used for detecting social context . The ideas will be implemented and tested in a small pilot. The outcome is an overview of possible contexts that can be detected and an analysis of its feasibility.

Project 2: Geo fencing

Goal: investigate how mobile phone sensors and / or IoT technology can be used for detecting relevant physical contexts. This includes fencing significant indoor and outdoor locations with the goal of interacting with users based on their presence in these locations. The ideas will be implemented and tested in a small pilot. The outcome is an overview of possible contexts that can be detected and an analysis of its feasibility. This includes facets such as power consumption, accuracy of detection, and technical requirements.

Project 3: Detecting relevant activity

Goal: investigate how SWAN sensors and the outcomes of project 1 and 2 can be used for detecting relevant activities. The objective in particular is to detect sedentary and active behaviours, and to determine whether it is feasible to differentiate between different types of sedentary and active behaviour (i.e. between running, cycling, and swimming, or between watching TV and having coffee with a friend). Due to the power consuming nature of drawing on sensor information, special interest goes out to reliably detecting the above behaviours with as few sensors and as few timepoints as possible. The outcome is an overview of relevant activities that can be detected and an analysis of its feasibility, including information about power consumption, accuracy of detection and differentiation of activities, and technical requirements.

Determining trustworthiness of EMA ratings

In the E-Compared project, a mobile system has been developed that is used to monitor the mood of depressed patients during their therapy. This systems asks several times per day specific questions about a person’s mood, thoughts or feeling (EMA ratings). The goal of this student project is to investigate whether we can use detailed data about the way in which people answer those questions to determine the trustworthiness of the answers. One could think of aspects like “time between showing the question and the answer”, “time that finger pressed screen”, “physical distance of movement of finger”, etc. This project will be done in collaboration with the developers of the app, the University of Limerick. Not much programming is required.

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