Technology Use and Non-Use in the Gym

Project: Exploring the use and non-use of technology in the gym by wearable adopters

MSc Researcher: Misha Patel (UCL)

Supervisor: Aisling Ann O’Kane (University of Bristol)

Collaborators: Samsung Research UK


The use of wearable technology will become significantly more prevalent in the coming years, with major companies releasing devices such as the Samsung Gear Fit. With sensors, such as pedometers and heart rate monitors, embedded in these devices it is possible to use them for fitness purposes. However, little is known about how wearable adopters actually use wearable and existing technologies during exercise. In an exploratory situated study of technology use and non-use in the context of the gym, fitness informatics adopters showed varied practices related to distraction, appropriating technology into their routines, and information needs. We discuss this variance in relation to individual differences and the impact of the physical nature of the gym. Although further research might show other influencing factors such as the social context, we make a case for the use of situated studies to uncover tensions that lead to use and non-use of technology that arise in the different unfolding situations of using wearables in everyday life, including at the gym, which is a surprisingly complex context.

Paper: M. Patel, and A.A. O’Kane. “Contextual Influences on the Use and Non-Use of Digital Technology While Exercising at the Gym” in Proceedings of CHI 2015, 2015, pp.2923-2932

Thesis: M. Patel. In Situ Study of Contextual Factors Influencing Use and Non-Use of Technology in the Gym. University College London MSc in Human-Computer Interaction with Ergonomics Distinction Thesis, 2014.