Virtual Coaches for Healthy Lifestyle

  • H. J. A. op den Akker
  • R. Klaassen
  • A. Nijholt
Part of the Intelligent Systems Reference Library book series (ISRL, volume 106)


Since the introduction of the idea of the software interface agent the question recurs whether these agents should be personified and graphically visualized in the interface. In this chapter we look at the use of virtual humans in the interface of healthy lifestyle coaching systems. Based on theory of persuasive communication we analyse the impact that the use of graphical interface agents may have on user experience and on the efficacy of this type of persuasive systems. We argue that research on the impact of a virtual human interface on the efficacy of these systems requires longitudinal field studies in addition to the controlled short-term user evaluations in the field of human computer interaction (HCI). We introduce Kristina, a mobile personal coaching system that monitors its user’s physical activity and that presents feedback messages to the user. We present results of field trials (\(\text {N}=60\), 7 weeks) in which we compare two interface conditions on a smartphone. In one condition feedback messages are presented by a virtual animated human, in the other condition they are displayed on the screen in text. Results of the field trials show that user motivation, use context and the type of device on which the feedback message is received influence the perception of the presentation format of feedback messages and the effect on compliance to the coaching regime.


User Evaluation Virtual Character Virtual Human Feedback Message Interface Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to all Smarcovians who contributed in one way or another to the work reported here. This work was funded by the European Commission, within the framework of the ARTEMIS JU SP8 SMARCOS project 100249


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. A. op den Akker
    • 1
  • R. Klaassen
    • 1
  • A. Nijholt
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Media InteractionUniversity of TwenteAE EnschedeThe Netherlands

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