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Different ways to visualise health

Looking at games and fitness apps

May 25, 2020 -

This month I did some research into how health is visualised in fitness apps and games. For a new app involving personal health I am looking for an intuitive way to visualise how healthy one person is. There are many colourful approaches out there!

How healthy your are

The app I am working on is still very much under development, but it provides a way to calculate how much risk you have on a cardio vascular event, like a heart attack or illness. For this app I am looking for a modern, fresh way to visualise this risk / health ratio.

Research

I looked at various health and fitness apps to see how they visualise health. In addition to these "serious" apps I thought it would be fun to look at games, too. Game designers sometimes have find creative ways to visualise health. It can be a good source of inspiration for the app I'm working on.

Apple Health, Activty and Apple Watch

As companion app to the Apple Watch, the Activity app is the central hub for everything the Apple Watch measures with regard to personal health and fitness tracking.

The Activity app by Apple shows data measured by Apple Watch
The Activity app by Apple shows data measured by Apple Watch

Things to take away:

Biostrap

The Biostrap app is the way to access data collected by the Biostrap sensor.

The Biostrap app shows data collected by the Biostrap sensor
The Biostrap app shows data collected by the Biostrap sensor

Things to take away:

Pillow

Using the Pillow app users can analyse their sleep. The app works with Apple Watch to collect sleep data such as heart rate and body movement.

Pillow sleep app
Pillow sleep app

Things to take away:

Whoop

The Whoop app allows access to data collected by the Whoop sensor. The app consolidates large quantities of data into two main metrics "strain" and "recovery".

Whoop showing strain and recovery
Whoop showing strain and recovery

Things to take away:

Mario

Nintendo's Mario is possibly the worlds most famous game character. The Japanese game company is known for their creativity and friendliness in their game design.

Mario 64 and a the Super Mario Galaxy life bar
Mario 64 and a the Super Mario Galaxy life bar

Things to take away:

Doom

Possibly one of the most legendary first person shooters is Doom from 1993. This video game by ID Software greatly influenced many other games, it's an absolute classic.

Doom and the protagonist
Doom and the protagonist "Mud" showing how he feels

Things to take away:

Conclusion

By looking at different apps and games you can get an idea of how to design health visualisation yourself. This is certainly something that helped me understand how to visuale health.

Visualising health is done in various ways, but there are common themes across most of the apps and games. Circulair graphics and bright (neon) colours are often used. It's funny to realise that game design overlaps with the design of the more serious heath and fitness apps. Therefore I think I need to spent more hours gaming, purely for work of course. :-)

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