Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Transmitters in the city to get citizens moving

National first with beacons in Amsterdam

2 May 2016 09:19 | Communication

For the first time in the Netherlands, ‘beacons’ are being used to encourage people to exercise more. At public locations in Amsterdam, for example the Marineterrein and Oosterpark, these small transmitters have been placed in street lights to give novice joggers feedback on their performance and to measure how much they are moving. The joggers can download an app that connects to the beacons. The project kicked off on Monday, 18 April in the Oosterpark.

Break-time exercise

The target group for this research project are residents of Amsterdam-Oost who do not exercise frequently. Professor in the Power of Sports Marije Baart de la Faille – Deutekom of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Inholland is leading the research.

‘We want to find out whether we can stimulate and support precisely those people who don’t take part in sports so often to achieve the 30 minutes a day exercise norm’, professor Baart de la Faille – Deutekom says. ‘Our aim is not to suddenly transform people into fanatical sportsmen and women, but rather to achieve a sustainable change in their movement patterns; for example, a half hour of exercise every day in the park during their lunch break.’

Interactive park

The new app BAMBEA was developed to appeal to this group – the only exercise app linked to beacons in the public space. The app uses the beacons to give users feedback at specific moments. For instance, the app tells you when you have achieved an exercise goal or made progress, and when you are at a suitable place to do warming-up or stretching exercises. The research into this technology is being carried out by students supervised by AUAS researcher Joey van der Bie from the Professorship in Digital Life by professor Ben Kröse.

The BAMBEA app is different from existing running apps in that it is the only exercise app based on scientific theories of motivation and changing behaviour. Apps such as Runkeeper and Strava are only geared to performance. This new app not only gives feedback on performance, but also social support, and the idea that you can do it. The app is based on the theory that people move through a number of phases, from inactive behaviour to exercising. The BAMBEA app analyses the phases the various users have reached. The participants will then be given the feedback appropriate to their phase.