Augmented Reality and Action Design

This week, I got to attend an event where two fantastic researchers spoke about how to design products, communications, and processes to help people keep tough goals such as working out. Towards the end, the discussion turned towards the role that peer pressure can play in helping individuals keep goals. For instance, if I tell my best friend that I’m on a diet, I’m going to be ashamed to eat an ice cream in front of her the next day.

My best friend isn’t with me all the time, though. If I want an ice cream cone while I’m out by myself, there’s nothing but my own will power standing in my way, which may or may not be enough. What if there was something like JARVIS from Iron Man monitoring me, though, and chiming in every time I was about to make a poor choice?

I’m not talking about a scene out of an Orwell novel. I’m talking about Google Glass.

So maybe it works like this: Glass hooks into GPS, and when it realizes that I’m at a McDonald’s, MyFitnessPal pops up with a notice reminding me that I’m on a diet. Or maybe when I’m in Best Buy, HelloWallet scans the barcode of anything I look at for more than a few seconds and reminds me that a new flatscreen isn’t in my budget this month.

John Beshears’s research suggests that just writing down a goal helps people keep it better, and Katie Milkman’s shows that people will actually pay to be restricted in ways that they could technically restrict themselves if only they had the willpower. So there’s your market, Glass, and an ad campaign to go with it: for only $1,000, you get your very own full-time nutritionist, personal trainer, and budget adviser reminding you of your goals and how to keep them.