the future of persuasionWhy “persuasion” can’t be a dirty word p 1Force / design / defenseThe 6 strategies that could save...
SR-1321 © 2010 Institute for the Future. All rights reserved. All brands and trademarks remain the property of their respe...
CONTENTSContentsHUMANITY AT A CROSSROADS ....................................................................................
HUMANITY AT A CROSSROADS: THE POLES OF POWER AND PERSUASIONHumanity at a Crossroads:The poles of power and persuasionWheth...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasionedented insight into what we do and say, where we do it,and with whom w...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYMany future means of persuasion will be the same as they were in the past:...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionSuch digital assessments are not trivial. Behavioralconfirmation, a fou...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYThe Microsoft KIN phone handset provides a steady streamof updates from y...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasionmobile phone design. Instead of a home screen with iconsrepresenting di...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYNetworks create new baselines for normalMany will feel that productivity i...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionAn old dream: telepathic advertisingOne of the most enduring telepathic...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYDetecting attentionMost of us would like to avoid danger, especially whenw...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionForce Four:No-Click WorldPersonalized, adaptive interfaces effort-lessl...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYReducing barriers to actionOne of the most important powers of augmented r...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionUsing social interaction to stimulate engagementIt turns out that human...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYGames as powerful social influencersIn 2007, Georgia Tech professor and ga...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionForce Six:AmplifiedImaginationDynamic visualizations morph realityto in...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYAvatars get pervasiveAvatars do have not to be super-realistic to be effec...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionVisual filters make sense of real-time dataAt IFTF, we frequently look ...
THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYTranslating emotionsWhat start out as assistive technologies for people wi...
PERSUASIVE DESIGN/PERSUASIVE DEFENSEThe dynamic between the two sides of persuasion will be played out for all of us to so...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionPersuading People to CareWhat could possibly persuade someone in Califo...
TECHNICAL FOUNDATIONSPowerful trends in information technologies will enable continuing waves of innovation in persuasive ...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasion•	 Semantic graphs of linked data: Early Web pageswere connected with s...
TECHNICAL FOUNDATIONS3. 	IMMERSIVE MEDIA VENUES FOR PERSUASIONThe same high-performance supercomputing resources arealso g...
APPLICATIONSWe’ve identified transformative forces and emerging technology clusters that are transforming the future of pe...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionAs more data is collected and combined and as the sci-ence of analysis ...
APPLICATIONSConsuming happinessOn the heels of the recession and the related drop in con-sumer spending in the United Stat...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionBrains and brandsYou say you prefer Pepsi to Coke, but what do you re-a... Making homes smart and persuasiveThe term “smart ho...
INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionRewards for healthy behaviorWe know it is not easy to consistently make...
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
Iftf future of persuasion report
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Iftf future of persuasion report

  1. 1. the future of persuasionWhy “persuasion” can’t be a dirty word p 1Force / design / defenseThe 6 strategies that could save your life! p 21The future of philanthropy? p 22Your crash course on persuasive technologies p 25Advertising goes undercover! p 29The road to genuine healthy living? p 32The future of learning! p 37Politics and persuasion in the 21st century p 40Now what? Action principles for your organization! p 43More from the experts! p 49What your digital trailswill say about you p 524/7 support—andinescapable peer pressure p 7When machines knowmorethan we do! p 9Knocking down barriersto action, now! p 12Turning to this pageis worth 5 points p 14You’re not crazy,that ad does look like you p 16Feeling good? Awe-some!Here’s how to share it p 18124 University Ave., 2nd floorPalo Alto, CA
  2. 2. SR-1321 © 2010 Institute for the Future. All rights reserved. All brands and trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.Reproduction is prohibited without written consent.About the …Institute for the FutureThe Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group withmore than 40 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emergingtrends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. Weprovide our members with insights into business strategy, design process, innovation, andsocial dilemmas. Our research spans a broad territory of deeply transformative trends, fromhealth and health care to technology, the workplace, and human identity. The Institute forthe Future is located in Palo Alto, California.Technology Horizons ProgramThe Technology Horizons Program combines a deep understanding of technology andsocietal forces to identify and evaluate discontinuities and innovations in the next three toten years. Our approach to technology forecasting is unique—we put people at the centerof our forecasts. Understanding humans as consumers, workers, householders, and com-munity members allows IFTF to help companies look beyond technical feasibility to identifythe value in new technologies, forecast adoption and diffusion patterns, and discover newmarket opportunities and threats.AcknowledgementsThe Technology Horizons TeamLyn Jeffery, Program DirectorMathias Crawford, Research ManagerJake Dunagan, Research DirectorMike Liebhold, Distinguished FellowDavid Pescovitz, Research DirectorJason Tester, Research and Design ManagerAdditional contributionsVivian Distler, Research Manager, Health Horizons ProgramJean Hagan, Creative DirectorRobin Bogott, Karin Lubeck, Jody Radzik, Design and LayoutLisa Mumbach, Production Editor
  3. 3. CONTENTSContentsHUMANITY AT A CROSSROADS ...................................................................................................... 1THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAY ........................................................5Force One: Digital Mirrors .............................................................................................................5Force Two: Network on My Shoulder............................................................................................7Force Three: Telepathic Technologies...........................................................................................9Force Four: No-Click World.........................................................................................................12Force Five: Epic Win....................................................................................................................14Force Six: Amplified Imagination.................................................................................................16Force Seven: Awe-gmented Reality............................................................................................18PERSUASIVE DESIGN/PERSUASIVE DEFENSE.............................................................................. 21PERSUADING PEOPLE TO CARE: THE LOVELAND PROJECT.......................................................22TECHNICAL FOUNDATIONS: COMBINATORIAL EFFECTS FOR AMPLIFIED PERSUASION ........25Worldwide webs of semantically linked people, data and things.................................................25Super-charged human-machine interactions...............................................................................26Immersive media venues..............................................................................................................27APPLICATIONS: MARKETS, HEALTH, LEARNING, GOVERNANCE ...............................................29Markets: Advertising Everywhere and Nowhere..........................................................................29Health: Targeting Well-Being........................................................................................................32Learning: 21st Century Know-How.............................................................................................37Governance: Persuading Up, Persuading Down........................................................................40PRAXIS: PRINCIPLES FOR PERSUASIVE ORGANIZATIONS .........................................................43APPENDIX: HEAR MORE FROM THE EXPERTS .............................................................................49ENDNOTES ......................................................................................................................................53
  4. 4. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionivINSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of
  5. 5. HUMANITY AT A CROSSROADS: THE POLES OF POWER AND PERSUASIONHumanity at a Crossroads:The poles of power and persuasionWhether through flat-out coercion or the subtlest seduc-tion, moving others to a belief, position, or course ofaction lies at the core of political, social, and commercialpower. In ancient Greece, the art of rhetoric was cen-tral to education, and a key topic for philosophers andpoliticians. Fast-forward to the last century and the riseof mass commercialism, to the juggernaut of modernadvertising—the art of the sell.Now consider the rapidly evolving landscape of connec-tive, aware technologies that we find ourselves living withtoday. We have reached an inflection point in technologi-cal and social change at the end of the first decade ofthis new century. In many parts of the planet—not just thewealthy developed world—we have moved well beyondfiguring out how to simply access and create data, andare becoming enmeshed with mobile, increasingly awaretechnological systems that are orders of magnitude moreintimate, more automated, and knowledgeable about usthan anything we have seen before.Welcome to the future of persuasion.Behavioral sciences, neuroscience, genetics, and socialnetwork data are creating a new science of motivationand desire. Networked sensor data, semantic analysis,vibrant virtual and augmented realities, compelling datavisualization tools, video everywhere, and mobile super-computing: just as these systems create new avenues forself and collective expression, they also open us up tonew avenues of persuasion.What we do with these tools could not be more important.Will we use them to motivate ourselves and others forpositive behavior change, as we seek new life practicesthat create long-term sustainability for our planet? Orwill we be manipulated by those with access to unprec-Speechmaking was one of the earliest persuasivetechnologies, immortalized here in an image of famousrhetorician Cicero denouncing Catiline in the Roman Senate.Today, many think of persuasion as linked to
  6. 6. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasionedented insight into what we do and say, where we do it,and with whom we do it?In this report, we will journey through the future of persua-sion, looking at “forces of persuasion”—the core driversof change in how we will be persuaded and will persuadeothers—along with related strategies for designing morepersuasive experiences and defending against unwantedkinds of persuasion. We will explore the combinations oftechnologies that will provide the foundation for change,and we will meet some of the practitioners and researcherswho are developing this future.The new forces, technologies, and applications of persua-sion presented in this report suggest a range of scenariosfor the future development of persuasion, with a range ofsocial and economic impacts. More important, however, isthe dynamic between the two sides of persuasion: per-suading and being persuaded. It is perhaps this dynamic—sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conflict—thatwill have the largest impact on technology, innovation, andsociety over the coming decade.Ultimately, the two are likely to co-evolve, each feeding theother. This creative co-evolution suggests a scenario ofrapid innovation and expansion of all forms of technologi-cal context awareness, with both predictable and unex-pected opportunities for creating economic, personal, andcollective value. However, the same dynamic—where top-down control meets bottom-up hacking—may also createdarker scenarios when the interests of those at oppositeends of the dynamic conflict. Thus the future is certain toheighten debates on the commercial use of digital data, therole of technology in daily life, and individual privacy.The persuasive future we are entering is not an option;we must all participate in it. It is the future of advertising,of learning, of the workplace, and of health. We have tochoose our stance toward this future and understand thatfor all of us, in our roles as consumers, users, citizens, em-ployers, and employees, the challenge is how to harnessthe power of persuasion for the right reasons rather thanfor the wrong ones.Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Fogg, BJ. Persuasive Technology. Ariely, Dan. PredictablyIrrational. Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.We are in the midst ofan explosion of newfindings and popularinterest in the art andscience of persuasionand motivation.2
  7. 7. 3
  8. 8. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of
  9. 9. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYMany future means of persuasion will be the same as they were in the past: logic, argumentation, a well-craftedstory. But our understanding of persuasion, attitude formation, and behavior change is evolving, not only throughtraditional disciplines like psychology and economics, but increasingly through neuroscience, game design, andthe development of new persuasive technologies.We’ve synthesized new scientific findings and emerging technologies into seven forces that will define persuasionin the next ten years. These forces can be harnessed and directed, even designed, but rarely controlled or stoppedoutright. Read them for an understanding of how we are about to find ourselves heavily influenced by a wholehost of new people, places, and things.The Remaking of PersuasionSeven forces at playForce One:Digital MirrorsAlgorithms analyze and reflect backour digital activity to shape attitudes,behaviors, and identities.We are each beginning to create an enormous number ofdigital artifacts, which we can choose either to share or toprotect. Health records, fitness logs, social contact lists,media preferences, and so on are, to varying degrees, allentering the public sphere. These artifacts will be minedto create a “digital mirror” of our lives. With the dramaticincrease in the number of digital artifacts, there will be agreater drive to make sense of it all—to understand howthe artifacts are linked. Innovations in web graph analysisare the new frontier for creating digital mirrors of our lives,which will reflect back new awareness and analysis of ourown behaviors. These digital reflections, often based onanalytics that will be hidden from us, will become a power-ful source of influence on our actions and emotions.Systems for self-improvementOften, digital mirrors will be devices or services that weadopt for self-improvement. For example, the PersonalPerformance Coach from Accenture Technology Labs is asoftware prototype that will listen to both ends of a mobilephone conversation and determine whether one party istalking too much or interrupting too frequently. The systemreports feedback right after a call and rewards improve-ment over time. Many digital mirrors will take a similarform, watching what we do and, like any coach or personaltrainer, offering analysis, feedback, and motivation. Buthow will we know what interrupting too much is, withoutsome baseline for comparison?Systems that know me better than I know myselfAccenture’s digital mirror is personal, but many other digitalmirrors will reflect something back only in comparison ofour lives to others. One such mirror is called TweetPsych,an online service—or perhaps provocation—that offers togenerate a “psychological profile” by looking at the wordsin a Twitter user’s stream of tweets and comparing to otherusers’ tweets. These comparisons range from the emo-tional valence of a Twitter stream—such as whether it is ina more positive or negative style than the average user—toa frequency comparison of topics such as education orfinance.5
  10. 10. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionSuch digital assessments are not trivial. Behavioralconfirmation, a foundational theory from psychology, hasrepeatedly demonstrated that we change our behaviorsbased on what others expect us to be. In a classic test ofbehavioral confirmation in which undergraduate studentsinteracted over a phone, female students were deemedfriendlier and more charming when the males they weretalking to had been told their counterparts were attractive.1A perceiver can cause another person to act in ways thatconfirm the perceiver’s expectations. Neuroscience issuggesting our brains are even wired to experience suchconfirmations directly in the ventral striatum, the innatereward center of the brain.2What our mirrors tell us aboutourselves will impact what we think of ourselves, and evenwhat we do.Systems that know me by my friendsProject Gaydar was an experiment in 2007 by a few MITundergraduate students who were curious to know whatour social networks could reveal about us. Their goal wassimple: to determine the sexual orientation of a person onFacebook who did not specify it, solely by aggregating thespecified sexual orientations of Facebook friends. Theirformula made the right determination in every single case,according to the volunteers who agreed to reveal it.Project Gaydar was deemed “right” 100% of the time becausethe cooperating students had clearly defined sexual orienta-tions but chose not to declare one in their Facebook profiles.There are, however, many reasons people do not list some-thing like sexual orientation or political persuasion, andprivacy, while vitally important, is probably not as dominanta reason as uncertainty. Many people’s attitudes may sim-ply not yet be formed; they may be still deciding, or solidlyin the middle. Digital Mirrors are confronting younger usersin particular with a new “age of early self-conception,” asWeb entrepreneur Ben Casnocha has termed it. “As young-er and younger people set up profiles,” he says, “they endup confronting some of the central angst-inducing identityquestions early in life.” For future digital mirrors, however,the nuances of uncertainly and proto-identity formationwill likely not matter, and they will begin to tailor our digitalexperiences according to our best answers or their bestestimations.Project Gaydar is a project from MIT studentsto determine the unlisted sexual orientationof a profile just by looking at the listedorientations of their onlineTweetPsych will create a “psychologicalprofile” of any public Twitter account, basedon the words used in that Twitter
  11. 11. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYThe Microsoft KIN phone handset provides a steady streamof updates from your social network.Digital mirrors: reflective or predictive?We might be inclined to label these digital mirrors as notonly reflective but also predictive. Again, harking back tothe principle of behavioral confirmation, we adjust our be-haviors to live up to others’ expectations. Advertising firmslike RapLeaf and social networks like Facebook, usingdigital mirrors such as TweetPsych and Project Gaydar andsupplemented with enormous stores of “friendship data,”could begin to adjust our online interactions and environ-ments—automatic curation of digital news or the personal-ized layout of a Web shopping site—to their expectationsof who we are. With such constant embodiment of theseexpectations, there exists a real potential that we may betipped one way or the other to conform to meet them: gayor straight, liberal or conservative, safe or unsafe creditrisk, in a solid relationship or “on the rocks.” Far beyond re-flecting or predicting, digital mirrors will be powerful forcesfor persuasion.Force Two:Network on MyShoulderFriends, networks, and online crowdsshow up in everything we do, offeringinstant support or mass peer pressure.Having easy access to people online is not particularly new(though it’s not all that old either; Facebook, after all, hasonly been around about six years). Mobile phones provideon-the-go access to contact lists, and instant messag-ing gives us our buddy lists. These interactions are stillconversations, however, and even IM or text messageconversations bring with them extraneous conventionsand traditions—the tax of small talk—that prevent peoplefrom reaching out as often as they might for quick motiva-tion or support. Buddy lists and contact lists offer easyaccess to the network at our fingertips, but they are quicklymorphing into networks on our shoulders. These networkswill transform the way we are influenced—and influenceothers. As they become more automated, and constantlyvisible, we will begin to compare our daily behaviors to new“norms” set by our own social networks or even by crowdsof strangers. Peer pressure will be amplified, creating newforms of crowd mentality, for good and for bad.Networks go from conversation to general awarenessIn May 2010, Microsoft released an eagerly awaited butquickly abandoned new entry into the market of mobilephones. Microsoft’s KIN targeted users in their teens andtwenties, and to appeal to this audience, the companyradically departed from what has become commonRapLeaf scans millions of blogs, social networks,and digital trails and uses the term “friendshipdata” to describe how they augment existing adcampaigns. The CEO of Rapleaf exemplified theirstrategy with a scenario where “a home buyer withan on-the-fence credit score should be treated asa safer bet if his friends have higher scores.”
  12. 12. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasionmobile phone design. Instead of a home screen with iconsrepresenting different apps or functions on the phone, theKIN displays a constant stream of updates from friendsand contacts in a user’s social networks, so there will be nohesitation between wondering and knowing what friendsare up to. This is a “Network on My Shoulder.”Devices like KIN portend a significant shift, from intentionaland targeted conversations within a social network to amore automatic and mass awareness of the network’sactivities, moods, and needs. The change from conversa-tions to awareness is essential to understanding the newpersuasive power of social networks. Even though the KINline from Microsoft has since been discontinued, othermobile phones built on the popular Android platformfeature social network streams as home screens, includingnew offerings from Motorola.Networks go automatedAs devices sense behaviors and environments, they willbegin reporting not only to their owners but also directly toonline networks. The Withings body scale, for example, isknown as the “scale that tweets,” and what it advertises asa feature to some people is probably a nightmare to oth-ers: the option to post the result of each weigh-in to socialnetworks like Facebook or Twitter. Once a person’s weightexists on an online network, other people can interact withit, ideally with supportive comments and replies.The Withings scale epitomizes a scenario in which weadopt a persuasive technology for personal benefit. Thescale must be purchased, connected to a wireless network,associated with a social network, and finally set to auto-matically broadcast weight. For some it will be well worth itfor access to near-real-time encouragement.Networks force comparison with the crowdNot all network interactions will be opt-in, however. It willbe much harder to ignore the network on your shoulderwhen it is built right onto your desktop—as with the Daydarsoftware prototype from the MIT Media Lab.Daydar is a system to track and display the minute-by-minute, day-by-day productivity of a team or social net-work. A dynamically updated progress report is displayedas the desktop background of each member’s computer.The size and colors of the blobs on the display correspondto both the scale of tasks and the real-time success of theteam or network at accomplishing them. The user is madeaware of their own progress and how it compares with therest of the team, even more subtly and consistently thanwith a stream of social network updates such as thoseproduced by a device like the Withings scale.Daydar users can compare their behaviors and per-formance to the crowd at a glance. Surely this can bemotivating—the principle of social proof says that we typi-cally turn to those around us for information on behaviornorms—but Daydar points toward a new type of subtler,inescapable awareness ofThe Withings scale, also known as the “scale that tweets.”MIT Media Lab’s Daydar—a prototype to track and displaythe daily productivity of your social network.8
  13. 13. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYNetworks create new baselines for normalMany will feel that productivity is an acceptable domainof life for systems that quantify, display, and compareour performance to others. But few would likely want thenetwork on their shoulder when they are having sex. TheBedpost app is a digital diary for self-trackers who areinterested in reflecting back on the details of their sex lives(social networking features are limited to partner logins). Itis a product of the growing Quantified Self phenomenon:people who track data points in their lives ranging fromdaily happiness and well-being to attention and productiv-ity, to health metrics and even sex.3Bedpost and Daydar suggest that we are bringing the Net-work on My Shoulder into previously personal areas of life.The aggregated data produced by these systems is alsoestablishing new baselines—metrics that can be accessedinstantly but that are also potentially unavoidable, evenwhen we may not be seeking a social comparison.Force Three:TelepathicTechnologiesSensors tracking our location, health,and attention know just the right timeand right place to persuade or intervene.Stanford innovator and psychologist BJ Fogg notes timingis often the missing element in behavior change. Fogg hasa name for properly timed alerts—he calls them triggers—and he has isolated triggers as the single most powerfulcomponent of successful behavior change.There have been many visions over the years of the per-suasive potential of technologies if only they knew some-thing about our immediate context, such as our mood,schedule, location, or health. Sensors that track suchfactors could know just the right time and right place topersuade or intervene. We are currently in the midst of anexplosion in the deployment of sensors to detect images,heat, motion, and more. New household sensors, for ex-ample, will create assistive environments and new kinds ofsmart objects. Hundreds of sensors are being embeddedwithin cars that allow parts to communicate among them-selves, and that also deal with human factors issues. In ad-dition, we are finally at the brink of having mobile devicesnot only be aware of location but also understand aspectsof our biological state. Mobile phones have been relativelydumb for most of their history but are quickly becomingintelligently aware.As the devices and environments around us becomeaware, they will play a bigger role in making decisions forus, or in nudging us toward specificBedpost is a digital diary to make it easier for self-trackersinterested in reflecting back on the details of their sex lives.Apple filed a patent in May2010 for the iPhone to detectheart rate through the casing ofthe phone itself.9
  14. 14. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionAn old dream: telepathic advertisingOne of the most enduring telepathic scenarios is thelocation-based coupon where, for example, owners of acoffee shop can beam an instant discount to the mobilephones of people passing by their front door. This visionhas been waiting for cellular networks and mobile handsetsto catch up, but implementation is finally here.The North Face chain of outdoor clothing stores is pilotinga campaign in the summer of 2010 to send text messagesto potential customers as they—and their location-awaremobile phones—pass under a “geo-fence,” a virtual pe-rimeter corresponding to several city blocks around eachstore, that triggers a message upon entry. This is a pilotproject, and participants are required to opt in and declaretheir interest in the North Face brand, but it points to a fu-ture in which our technologies know something—or maybea lot of things—about our immediate context and take ac-tion accordingly, almost as if they were telepathic.Persuading the future meThe North Face geo-coupon is an important new op-portunity area for digital marketing, but mobile locativecapability is also being tapped by enterprising people topower their own goals. These users are repurposing smartphone apps to be more mindful, and to improve their ownbehaviors. The Locale app, for example, is designed to turnoff a phone’s ringer when the phone enters a user’s owngeo-fence. One woman programmed her phone to vibratewhenever she passed the gym, a tactile reminder and pingof guilt. A programmer wrote his own app so that his phonewould send out a text message to friends whenever helingered near an electronics store where he was known tospend too much money.At least for the near future of telepathic technologies(including location-aware phones), such grassroots storiesof personal mindfulness and self-improvement will beinteresting to follow, as people seek out capabilities to helpthem keep on track with their long-term goals. But certainlythe next phase of telepathic technologies will be thosethat not only detect conditions but also then act—moreautonomously, even aggressively—to alter our environmentor our user: wheelo28Locale allows users to specify conditions underwhich their phone’s settings should change.The North Face is piloting a program to send text mes-sages to potential customers when they pass under the“geo-fence” surrounding retail
  15. 15. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYDetecting attentionMost of us would like to avoid danger, especially whenwe’re operating a vehicle. Therefore, significant researchis being done to detect the physiological state of peoplewhile they are driving, initially to detect moments of immi-nent danger. Mercedes offers a feature in its high-endmodels, known as Attention Assist, which will watch forpatterns of erratic driving. Lexus brands its similar func-tionality as a Driver Attention Monitor, in which a cameratrained on the driver’s face detects nodding off, and Saabis focusing even more closely on a driver’s eyes with itsDriver Attention Warning System. In labs, work is beingdone to use video processing to detect drivers’ yawns,and researchers have built prototype cars that will blarealerts or vibrate the steering wheel to rouse a sleepy driver.Researchers have proposed tailoring a car’s environment inresponse to even greater awareness of a driver’s condi-tion, such as minimizing alerts when a driver is stressed, ordecreasing music volume when navigating new terrain.4Offices and classrooms are also taking on greater contextawareness. Research has found that a person’s level offidgeting is one good measure of attentiveness and en-gagement, and work is being done to tailor digital learningenvironments with fidget-detecting chairs.Microsoft is researching systems that can “automaticallydetect frustration or stress in the user” through facial analy-sis or biofeedback and that “offer and provide assistanceaccordingly,” such as simpler interfaces to the current taskor even performing the task automatically. Microsoft is alsodoing work to make sense of users’ cognitive processingas they perform computer-based tasks.Adaptive interfaces for better persuasionBeyond basic personal safety, one of the fastest grow-ing needs for telepathic tech is to help us with informa-tion and cognitive over-stimulation. Researchers at TuftsUniversity wired stockbrokers—people who are constantlymonitoring streams of financial data looking for patternsand who need to “recognize major changes without gettingbogged down in the details.” The stockbrokers were askedto watch a stream of financial data and write an involvedemail message to a colleague. As they got more involvedin composing the email, the fNIRS (functional near-infraredspectroscopy, which measures blood oxygenation levels inthe brain) system detected this and simplified the presenta-tion of financial data accordingly.The dynamic displays employed by the Tufts researchersare part of an emerging area of exploration known as adap-tive interfaces: intuitive interfaces that effortlessly connectour desires to our actions. Such interfaces could be over-used in the future as our technologies come to know moreabout our mental states. The researchers warned, “it is asafe assumption that users do not expect an interface tochange with every whim and daydream during the courseof their workday. We must be judicious with our design de-cisions.” However, as the decade progresses and our carscan sense when we are tired, our chairs know when we arebored, and our computers will almost literally be telepathic,our interactions will change because technology will adjustaccordingly, typically in the direction of removing options inthe name ofChairs outfitted with sensors can detect engagement and adaptinterfaces accordingly.Researchers at Microsoft have prototyped a systemdesigned to switch to simplified workloads when a useris experiencing cognitive overload.11
  16. 16. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionForce Four:No-Click WorldPersonalized, adaptive interfaces effort-lessly connect our desires to our actions.In his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice, sociologist BarrySchwartz puts forward the idea that having an abundanceof choices in our modern life causes us a great deal ofanxiety, disappointment, and ultimately unhappiness. Heacknowledges that “autonomy and freedom of choice arecritical to our well-being” but concludes that we are ulti-mately happier when some decisions are made for us.In the coming decade, this growing understanding of,and importance placed on, simplicity will be embodied inemerging technologies that reduce the work required toprocess information and up the level of social engagementbetween user and technology. These technologies will in-clude natural, intuitive interfaces and displays that conveydata and progress in the actual in situ settings.BJ Fogg has developed a behavior model that synthesizesand simplifies previous thinking about which formulascan reliably and repeatedly achieve desired outcomes. InFogg’s model, a person will perform a desired behaviorwhen sufficiently motivated, when able to perform thebehavior, and when triggered to perform it at the right time.Fogg uses the term simplicity interchangeably with ability,suggesting that “to increase a user’s ability, designers ofpersuasive experiences must make the behavior easier. Inother words, persuasive design relies heavily on the powerof simplicity.”5Decide for meEnter the iPhone restaurant-finding app called Urbanspoon.It offers a large database of restaurant listings that you cansearch by location, cuisine, and price, but it is not the sizeof database or the myriad of ways to slice-and-dice it thathas made Urbanspoon wildly successful; instead, it is theability to shake the phone and, in slot machine style, geta restaurant recommendation delivered at random. As ofMarch 2010, the app has been collectively shaken half abillionThe Urbanspoon app invites users to shaketheir iPhone and, slot machine style, get arestaurant recommendation deliveredYelp Monocle offers an augmented realitydisplay of Yelp’s ratings for businesseson Yelp.12
  17. 17. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYReducing barriers to actionOne of the most important powers of augmented reality willbe to make nearby opportunities more visible and moreactionable. Like Urbanspoon, Yelp has created apps forsmart phone platforms to make their extensive databasesof local businesses more actionable in situations whereusers are hunting for something nearby. Yelp’s mobile inter-faces are quite usable, but they can require several stepsbetween curiosity about what is nearby and actually findingenough information (name, location, rating) to act. Yelp hasworked to reduce these barriers with a new mobile-appfeature called Monocle, an augmented reality (AR) overlaythat displays nearby business listings over a real-time videofeed of the street in front of the phone. The listings areoverlaid based on the direction the phone is facing and thedistance from the phone’s position, leaving a user to simplyput one foot in front of the other until reaching a place thatsounds interesting.Finding the right restaurant is not itself an especiallyimportant behavior, but imagine a simple presentationsimilar to Yelp Monocle’s but for the nearest healthy foodoptions or the nearest place to recycle a plastic bottle thatwould otherwise be thrown away. Both are situations whereeffortlessly simple interfaces will be the difference betweenaction and avoidance, persuasion and ignorance.Using nature to stimulate engagementJust as Monocle encourages urban discovery by making iteasier to explore, the no-click world will also have inter-faces that persuade us toward physical activity as a matterof life or death—not our death, but that of virtual objects inour care. Such organic metaphors will increasingly be usedto embody real-time data.These interfaces are examples of the simplicity principle inaction: they strip away unnecessary data and tell you onlywhat you need to know to adjust your behavior quickly.They could instead use bar charts—inorganic blocks thatstack on top of each other—but the organic metaphors tapinto a deeper motivation we have, to help living things live,or at least not let them die on ourThe dashboard for the 2010 Ford Focus Hybrid carprominently features a plant that grows healthier asa person drives more fuel efficiently.The only display on the FitbitTracker, the first mass-con-sumer wearable physical-activity sensor, is a flower thatblooms only when its weareris reaching a target level ofphysical activity for the day.13
  18. 18. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionUsing social interaction to stimulate engagementIt turns out that humans are still fairly primal when it comesto interacting with technology that seems even vaguelyalive, especially if it seems human. Stanford professorsByron Reeves and Clifford Nass have extensively studiedthis phenomenon and have dubbed our vestigial andcordial reactions to friendly technology as “The MediaEquation.” Their conclusion is that people treat computers,TV, and new media as real people and places.This gullibility may actually be a source of persuasivepotential. Intuitive Automata, a commercial spinoff of theMIT Media Lab, uses conversational interfaces and friendlyrobots to motivate patient engagement with traditional tele-medicine systems. These systems are designed to checkin daily with patients living with chronic disease, askingquestions like “How do you feel today?” and “Have youbeen eating?” Their research showed that even with thestandard simple display and a few buttons, it can be hardto sustain patient engagement long enough to truly man-age the disease. So they ran an experiment in which somepatients received a standard telemedicine device whileothers received Autom, Intuitive Automata’s anthropomor-phic robot. Autom is built around a telemedicine screen butalso nods, blinks, and converses with patients about theirhealth. Patients who received Autom continued to engagewith the daily questions from their health care provider fortwice as long as those who received only the screen.In the coming decade we will find ourselves increasinglybeing seduced and cajoled by our software and hardware.Force Five:Epic WinWe will use games to persuade ourselvesto be better people, from working harder tofeeling more empathy, to considering theeffects of our actions.The convergence of social networks, console gaming,locative personal media, and alternate reality gaming isdriving a growing recognition that games, as IFTF Direc-tor of Game Research and Development Jane McGonigalputs it, are some of the world’s best engines of happiness,joy, fierce competition, human connection, and hard work.Thus the movement to port the most compelling aspectsof games—what makes them fun—to other arenas, to moti-vate more engagement with learning, work, public action,and health.Harnessing digital achievementThe Boy Scouts have been leveraging one persuasivepower of gaming—achievement—through awarding meritbadges for more than 100 years. In early 2010, the BoyScouts announced a video gaming badge that is earnedby completing activities such as playing a video gamewith family members in a tournament or listing five waysthat a friend could learn how to play the Scout’s favoritegame. This announcement stirred some warrantedcontroversy about childhood obesity and turning kids into“screen zombies,” but the Boy Scouts’ new badge wasalso an acknowledgment that digital performance can beharnessed and channeled for positive outcomes.Now that so much game play is done online and integratedwith social networks, earning and displaying rewards forachievement is even more prominent. Casual gaming onFacebook has brought digital merit badges to a vast swath ofolder netizens, expanding digital achievement systems wellbeyond the conventional online or console gamingIntuitive Automata created Autom, an anthropomorphic robot,to engage with patients about their health.The Boy Scoutsrecently announced a“video gaming” badgeearned by engagingfriends and family ingaming.14
  19. 19. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYGames as powerful social influencersIn 2007, Georgia Tech professor and game designer IanBogost coined the term persuasive games, arguing thatgames have the power not only to entertain, but to per-suade and inform, to impart a point of view to their playersthrough the ideology embedded in their core logic andnarratives. Through the process of learning the rules andexploring a game’s internal physics of cause and effect,players find themselves in rich interaction with alternativeideologies. Bogost and others design persuasive gamesthat pull players into unexplored worlds and force them toconfront situations that make them think about real worldproblems … without being preachy or uncomfortable.For example, MTVu, MTV’s 24-hour college network,launched online Flash game Darfur is Dying, a “viral videogame for change.” Players take on the role of a Darfur refu-gee and at several points in the game are restricted to verylimited options, including keystrokes or clicks that simplywill not be acknowledged by the game. The lack of optionsto progress is designed to mirror the helplessness expe-rienced by many refugees of the Darfur conflict. Humanrights organization Breakthrough has created the gameICED—“I Can End Deportation”—inviting players to walk inthe shoes of someone in the ecosystem of U.S. immigra-tion. It immerses players in a character’s daily struggles,translated into missions to complete as a seamless aspectof gameplay.ICED and Darfur is Dying are free online games, bothexemplifying fairly lightweight development. With low-cost tools like Adobe Flash and new engines to make3D worlds, a compelling game can be made quickly andcheaply by almost any party with an ideology to express.Morality engines go mainstreamThese same ideas are also influencing the design of moremainstream video games. Fable II is a big-budget fantasyrole-playing game for Microsoft’s Xbox system that startsplayers as young adventurers and ages their online char-acters as time passes in the game’s narrative chronology.The game touts your freedom in its virtual universe to doalmost anything you can think of in the real world—but togo along with such freedom it includes a “Morality Engine,”which attaches “morality points” to every action. In fact,your character’s physical aging process is correlated toyour morality score, including the potential for a flawedcomplexion due to immoral deeds performed earlier in yourvirtual life. Your character’s weight is correlated to youreating choices, and you earn “purity points” for eating avegetarian diet. In the next decade, expect games to showup outside of traditional gaming platforms, but also look forthem to push us to be more aware of the real world of realhuman relations.Persuasive Games: TheExpressive Power of VideoGames, by IanDarfur is Dying is billed as a “viral video game for change,”produced by MTVu, MTV’s 24-hour college network.ICED is an online game that lets you inhabit the first-personshoes of someone in the ecosystem of U.S. immigration.15
  20. 20. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionForce Six:AmplifiedImaginationDynamic visualizations morph realityto influence how we see the world andourselves.The future of persuasion is being transformed by tools thatdramatically expand the capacity to visualize our environ-ments and ourselves, from augmented reality overlays tomore commonplace immersion in virtual environments withavatars representing us. From simple cartoon representa-tions to powerfully realistic graphic renderings, the newworld of visualization will have powerful effects on humanpsychology. According to Stanford professor Byron Reeves,avatars could be “the most psychologically potent featureof new media”—in other words, the most persuasive.Emerging technologies are giving us enormous new powersto create simulations that are “realer than real,” based onrendering combined with complex modeled behaviors andinteractions. These technologies will allow us to amplify ourimagination by creating environments that are photorealis-tic and that we can accept as real. Such applications willalso enable us to create super-realistic avatars; soon wewill be able to create effects as good as in the movie Avatarusing just our phones.Vulnerability to the virtual selfStanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), a leadingcenter for work on the persuasive power of avatars, is atthe frontier of understanding the profound effects thatvirtual-body experiences can have on our decisions,judgment, and emotions. The “Proteus Effect” describeshow we alter our behaviors, both in virtual environmentsand in the real world, in response to experiences via virtualavatars. For example, researchers have demonstrated thatinhabiting a taller avatar makes us more confident, seeingour avatar exercise or eat healthily promotes those samebehaviors in the real world, and, in what the lab calls self-endorsement, seeing our avatar happily using a productincreases our affinity for that product.6But it’s not only experiences with avatars that will persuadeus in the next decade. The rise of photo-, audio-, andvideo-morphing tools will increase the possibilities of moresubtle forms of self-endorsement … ones that we mightnot even be aware of. Another series of experiments atStanford’s VHIL suggests just how malleable we might bewhen seeing subtle aspects of ourselves hidden in imagesof others. Researchers morphed the faces of U.S. presi-dential candidates in a 60%/40% blend with either a ran-dom person or the participant in the experiment, and theparticipant was asked to vote for a candidate. The resultswere striking: the candidate morphed with the participant’sown face was more likely to be selected than one morphedwith a stranger’s face. And in post-experiment interviews,not a single person detected that his or her image hadbeen morphed with the photograph of the,J.N.&Segovia,K.Y.(2010).Virtualdoppelgangers:Psychologicaleffectsofavatarswhoignoretheirowners.InW.S.Bainbridge(Ed.),Onlineworlds:Convergenceoftherealandthevirtual(175-186).Springer:NewYork.Subjects in a Stanford study who had their faces morphed ina 60/40 blend with presidential candidates were more likely tovote for the candidate morphed with their own face.Stanford’s VHIL Lab has been exploring the psychologyof our relationships to virtual images of ourselves,showing that virtual bodies can have significant impacton our physical bodies.16
  21. 21. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYAvatars get pervasiveAvatars do have not to be super-realistic to be effective,nor do they require a fully immersive virtual reality headsetor even an extensive virtual world to roam around in, suchas the standard-bearer virtual world Second Life. Avatarsare gaining steady traction as their own form of socialnetworking, and many teens around the world send instantmessages or talk in chat rooms alongside an avatar ac-companiment. They are primarily socializing—not exploringor gaming—and this use of avatars as an extra layer ofsociality is likely where we will continue to see them.IMVU is a leader in avatar-based social platforms primarilytargeting kids and teens, reporting 10 million users of theirservice a month. IMVU offers its users an almost unlimitedcapacity to customize their avatars’ height, hair color, andso on. Other options, including a general inclination towarddoll-like proportions, are fairly dysmorphic and out of stepwith the natural range of body sizes in the real world. Ifavatars really are the most psychologically potent form ofnew media, and if inhabiting modified avatars begins toalter our real-world moods and behaviors, avatar use byyoung people will be the next battleground for parentalconcern and oversight (as MySpace and Facebook werethis past decade).Immersive previewsAs discussed in Force Four: No-Click World, augmentedreality (AR) will be applied as a persuasive means of trans-lating information into immediate action in the real contextof decision making. But the better-known vision of AR—asa sort of magic window, overlaying images of things-that-could-be right into our view—will also provide context-aware imagery that will influence opinions and choices.Early work on AR has been done in the context of urbanplanning and community development, often to helpcitizens imagine how new developments or master planswould manifest in a specific neighborhood. In Rotterdam,for example, residents can see how a large new buildingcalled Market Hall will look when it is completed in 2014 byviewing the construction site through their AR-capable mo-bile phones. As simple AR toolkits make it easy to createsuch visualizations, we can imagine multiple visualizationsfor a proposed development, each aligned to a differentpoint of view, competing for citizens’ hearts and minds,and ultimately inciting votes or protest about how a com-munity shouldAvatars from IMVU, an avatar-based instant messagingservice with 10 million users a month.Augmented reality will show us real-world possibilitiesbefore they materialize. This app gives passers-by a viewof what the new Market Hall in Rotterdam will look likewhen it is completed in 2014.17
  22. 22. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionVisual filters make sense of real-time dataAt IFTF, we frequently look to digital artists, activists, andprovocateurs as early indicators of future directions ofchange; often their work is a painstakingly handcrafted pro-totype of what will be an automated feature of tomorrow’stechnology. One such vision can be found in a video, madeby mashup artist, which went viral near the endof the 2008 presidential campaign. It repurposed clips fromthe three Obama–McCain presidential debates, overlappingclips every time a candidate repeated a political phrase hehad said verbatim in an earlier debate. The artist’s position,although unstated, is clear: these forums are idealized as araw conversation about issues but are often just repeateddisplays of political theater.This particular video was crafted by combing throughdebate transcripts and time-coding and synchronizingvideo, and of course was possible only after the threedebates (and election) were over and comparisons couldbe made. But imagine the presidential debates in 2016,where today’s postmortem artistic statement becomes areal-time filter, thanks to the ability to access prior videomere milliseconds after the candidate says a phrase andto persuasively visualize those repetitions in real time,ultimately affecting voters’ impressions before an election.Dynamically-generated visual filters like these, nascentnow, will become vitally important in the future.Force Seven:Awe-gmentedRealityExpressing and detecting emotion becomesa persuasive layer in our interactions withtechnology.Emotion will be an increasingly important component ofpersuasive technologies over the next decade. The rise ofsocial media is, in large part, about the human desire toconnect more intensely and the search for fresh, compel-ling ways to reach out and touch one another. Real-timevideo, avatars, Facebook comments, even the simple textmessage: all afford different emotional expressions. Inthe coming decade, new findings in brain and behavioralsciences will continue to uncover genetic and neurologi-cal bases of emotions that will open up novel forms ofintervention. Increasingly sophisticated facial and gesturalrecognition software will allow us to mine our physicalresponses for new clues into emotion. The Network onMy Shoulder will bring our emotional awareness of others,and others’ awareness of our emotional state, into morecorners of our lives. And Digital Mirrors will shape our self-perceptions by reflecting back the emotional content of ourdigital trails.Many personal devices already or will soon aim video cam-eras at our faces as we interact with them, from the tinycameras built into the top of most laptop monitors to thenewest mobile phones like the iPhone 4, with its camerasboth in back of the handset and facing frontward towardthe user’s face. The potential for many of the technologiesin our lives to know something of our emotional state andadapt accordingly is closer thanMashup artist created this video,which repurposed clips from the 2008presidential debates, overlapping clipsevery time a candidate repeated a phrasehe had used earlier.18
  23. 23. THE REMAKING OF PERSUASION: SEVEN FORCES AT PLAYTranslating emotionsWhat start out as assistive technologies for people withdisabilities often result in mainstream applications down theline. Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created a pro-totype called the Self-Cam, part of a larger Social EmotionalSensing Toolkit. The Self-Cam is a wearable camera andcomputer for people with autism that analyzes its wearer’sfacial expressions and head movements and reports backwhich of six states of mind the wearer may be conveying toothers: agreeing, disagreeing, interested, confused, concen-trating, or thinking. Gaze-based interfaces, facial expressionanalysis, and head position analysis are already being de-veloped to increase the efficacy of online social interactionsbetween virtual agents and humans as well.Similar work at Stanford’s VHIL to detect expressions isdemonstrating that what we project on our faces may alsobe predictive of our future behaviors. As the VHIL puts it,facial expressions are “true reflections of internal intent,allowing us to predict future behaviors.” Within two minutesof detecting participants’ faces in an experiment aboutonline shopping, the VHIL’s algorithm to detect micro-expressions was able to accurately predict whether theparticipant would make a purchase or was only doing virtu-al window-shopping. These kinds of emotional translationtools will play an increasingly important role for all kinds of“assisted” interactions in the coming decade, whether theybe human-human, machine-human, real world, or virtual.Sending touchOf course faces are not the only means by which wesignal our emotional state. An emerging body of researchis discovering that touch can be a remarkably expressivemedium for conveying emotion, and receiving a touch apowerful precursor to changing attitudes and behaviors. Inone experiment, a sympathetic touch from a doctor gavepeople the impression that the visit lasted twice as long.7The growing ability to embed circuits in everyday objectsthat are wirelessly connected to online networks is creat-ing new traction for digital forms of touch. Touch is evenmeeting the Networks on My Shoulder, as in an MIT MediaLab prototype of a “haptic social network.” Called StressOutSourced (SOS), a jacket outfitted with small vibra-tors across the back becomes an intermediary betweenpeople in need of a stress-relieving pat.8Supportive onlinenetworks could offer to provide that virtual touch whenneeded. The placement of the vibrators also indicates thegeographic origin of the touch—a touch from someonewithin 10 miles will be felt closest to the spine, while aninternational supporter would be felt on the periphery. Wecan easily imagine future versions of the SOS concept thatare self-contained, whereby Digital Mirrors or TelepathicTechnologies detect our negative moods and automaticallydeliver increasingly lifelike affirming touches.The power of aweThe name of this force, “awe-gmented reality,” is of coursea pun on the technology of augmented reality. This twistwas inspired by a recent finding that should trigger afeeling of optimism for anyone invested in the future ofpersuasion. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvaniadiscovered that among the most emailed stories—thosethat ultimately went viral—from all the news stories onThe New York Times website were those that exhibited aquality they termed “awe.” These stories were typicallymore positive than negative, considered ideas on a grandscale, and ultimately suggested that the world was alarge and mysterious place. The stories required “mentalaccommodation.” As one researcher put it, when peoplefeel something like this, they are compelled to sharethat sensation. The potential to design a reality that iscontinually connected by the inspiring emotion of awe isan exciting reason to be hopeful as we moveIf activating your smile muscles leads to an immediate im-provement in mood, might we start persuading ourselves tohappiness by tools like the Happiness Hat? Artist LaurenMcCarthy created this deliberately provocative wearabledevice that detects whether its wearer’s cheek is raised highenough to be smiling and, if not, pricks with a tack in the backof the head until smiling begins.19
  24. 24. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of
  25. 25. PERSUASIVE DESIGN/PERSUASIVE DEFENSEThe dynamic between the two sides of persuasion will be played out for all of us to some extent, as we moveinto a world of aware environments and high-resolution digital reflections. How can you, as an individual, use theforces of persuasion to design a better future and also to protect yourself against the designs of others?Persuasive Design/Persuasive DefenseDesign the most beneficial and supportive network.People influence us simply by being in our networks, whetheras a source of motivational support or to set a mainstreambaseline for comparison and conformity. Knowing this, pickthe right people: turn digital mirrors on those in your networkto see what gets reflected back; learn what you may not knowabout them and what influence they could be having on you.Consider designing the “right” social network—not just peoplewho will be active supporters but also those whose proximalinfluence will improve your health, happiness, productivity, andultimate well-being.Design systems and triggers to motivate your future self.A somewhat dystopian vision for this persuasive future is oneof surveillance, where lingering outside a fast-food restaurantfor too long automatically sends an alert to a snooping doctor.But lead users—people who are writing custom programs andtriggers on their location-aware phones—are reclaiming thispower for their own goals. They are using telepathic technolo-gies to time-travel, acting today to program whichever form ofmotivation they will need when they pass a certain location,trigger a condition, or in the future.Design the ultimately persuasive reality for yourself.It may seem silly that we are motivated by earning badges orseeing tiny modified digital versions of ourselves, but it turnsout that we are. To meet your goals, be an early adopter ofthese persuasive techniques. Set up game rewards for thegoals you want to meet. Spend 20 minutes a day as an avatarthat is taller for confidence, or watch your avatar eat healthilyor have a productive day. Morph your face with your boss’s toget that promotion.Defend against your autonomous network identity.Know what your automated identity says about you. Use digitalmirrors to reflect your own behaviors, and watch emerging toolslike online privacy service ReputationDefender, which ambitious-ly claims to provide “total awareness of your online presence.”The merchants of digital mirrors, like TweetPsych, won’t likelybe revealing their algorithms, so it falls upon us to learn theirsystems. Test them, hack them, game them. But above all knowwhat they say about you, because as behavioral confirmationsuggests, others’ expectations of you today may subtly becomeyour behaviors tomorrow.Defend against interfaces that reduce your options.Telepathic technologies in a no-click world will adapt by reduc-ing options when they sense we are frustrated or overloaded.This simplification will take the form of pared-down displays,less data, or devices that just do something for us automatically.But sometimes being overwhelmed is a good thing, sometimeswe will be better than software at figuring out patterns, andsometimes an abundance of choice may be just what we needto keep our brains sharp. Look for tools that provide informationbut still let you make the decisions.Defend against persuasion beyond the senses.We’re going to need a significant update to our media literacy.One defense against subliminal persuasion, currently beingdebated, is a ban on, or mandatory labeling of, images that havebeen heavily retouched by Photoshop image software, particu-larly photographs of models in ads and magazine covers. “Thesephotos can lead people to believe in a reality that does not exist,”warns French parliamentarian Valérie Boyer, building on evidencethat these often grossly-exaggerated images can alter attitudes—starting with lowered self-esteem—and ultimately affect behaviorsthrough eating disorders and body dysmorphia.21Design for persuasion Defend against persuasion
  26. 26. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionPersuading People to CareWhat could possibly persuade someone in California or Massachusetts to careenough about urban blight and the future of the city of Detroit that they would investtheir own money in it? LOVELAND, a Detroit-focused organization pioneering newapproaches to engagement, is prototyping answers to this question by selling land—one inch at a time.Jerry Paffendorf, micro–real estate developer and creator of LOVELAND, sees the project as “crowd-creating a new kind of city” in down-and-out areas of Detroit. The project invites participants to buyone-square-inch properties within a 10,000-square-inch lot. Investors are given a deed to their acquisi-tion and a magnifying glass so that they can survey their new territory.A key part of this story is LOVELAND’s ongoing campaign to persuade people of the value of theirdecidedly unconventional approach. As one strategy for accomplishing this, Paffendorf has made par-ticipation in LOVELAND a unique game experience. The project has developed its story around “Inchy,”a one-square-inch character, eager to participate in an urban renaissance for his beloved Detroit, a citywhere the population has dwindled to less than half of what it was in the city’s peak in the 1950s.That is just the beginning, however. LOVELAND hascreated a full cast of characters and a backstory for theirtiny municipality. As a result, the LOVELAND team hasalready sold all of the properties in their initial lot and isin the process of bootstrapping the creation of additionalproperties.Paffendorf credits the venture’s success to its decisionto locate in a less populated city, its application of digitalworld concepts to the physical world, the creation of aframework for relationship building, and the encourage-ment of personal creativity.The lesson from LOVELAND is that fundraising for solu-tions to tough social problems can be made much easierby being made entertaining—that social investing can bemade not out of guilt or anxiety but out of delightand hope.22
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  28. 28. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of
  29. 29. TECHNICAL FOUNDATIONSPowerful trends in information technologies will enable continuing waves of innovation in persuasive experiences. We haveidentified three technology clusters that are foundational in this development:Technical FoundationsCombinatorial effects for amplified persuasion1. WORLDWIDE WEBS OF SEMANTICALLY LINKEDPEOPLE, DATA, AND THINGSWe are creating an enormous number of digital artifactsfrom all domains of our lives, as illustrated in the figurebelow. We can choose either to share or to protect thispersonal data, using them to update friends and family orreleasing them to be mined by third parties. We may notthink of them as being related to persuasion, but oncethey enter the digital world, they are fodder for dissemina-tion and analysis—they become platforms for persuasiveintervention.Web graph analysis:With the dramatic increase in the number of digital artifactsthat we are producing, there is an inexorable drive to makesense of it all—to understand how the artifacts are linked,and the meanings of our connections. Web graph analysis isthe new frontier for creating meaning and value out of theseartifacts. The value is in the graph of connections betweenlinked entities. A few examples:• Google’s Page Rank: Values a Web page’s relevancefor search results based on the weight of the links tothat page, and the links to those pages. Google uses aconstantly evolving set of algorithms but essentially thehighest ranked pages are listed first.1. Worldwide webs of semanticallylinked people, data, and things:These will enable us to create newpersuasive experiences by visualizing,sharing, and mining complex informa-tion about our lives.2. Supercharged human-machine inter-actions: Multicore supercomputingchips and cloud-served supercomput-ing are providing new affordances,recognizing our speech, our languag-es, our gestures, and our faces, andinstantly rendering intensely naturaland intelligent interactions.3. Immersive media venues: Comput-ing, video and mobile technologies arerapidly converging to support seam-less, multisensory 3D and tactile digitalinteractions.Health&FitnessCivicsWorkMediaInformationEducationSocialNetworksCommerce&BankingPersonalIdentityEcologyFriend NetsDietary LogsLifeblog RecordingsAddress BooksDistribution ListsNetwork AccountsAliases & HandlesAvatarsBookmarksRecommendationsSubscriptionsWeb, Blog, & Wiki IDsMedia NetsGames & Virtual WorldsLocative MediaMedia PreferencesAccounts & LoginsWish ListsPurchasesPreferencesBiometricsPersonal ProfilesLegal HistoryBiometrics & Sensor DataMedical RecordsExercise DataLicensesRegistrationsPermissionsOwnershipRecordsWorkspacesData & ServersTraining & CertificationAccounts & LoginsKeys & SignaturesSubscriptionsPersonal Identity Ecology:experiences are filteredthrough personal digitalidentities and contexts.25
  30. 30. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of Persuasion• Semantic graphs of linked data: Early Web pageswere connected with simple links or URLs. Nowwe are building huge semantic Webs of linked data(not just pages) based on a consensus grammar fordigital relationships, called the Resource DescriptionFramework (RDF). We can use RDF to establish simpleconnections between entities and to describe the natureof the relationship between those entities. For example,RDF can use the information that “Flipper is a dolphin,”and “dolphins are mammals,” to infer that “Flipper isa mammal.”• Semantic graphs of social networks: Social networksare generating millions of digital artifacts that, at firstglance, can appear incoherent. However, the relation-ships they reveal can be linked by a “social graph” inthe same way that digital objects can be linked by aweb graph. These social graphs look at the relation-ships not only between people but also between peopleand digital objects. The analysis of social graphs is alsostrongly based on RDF grammar, allowing machines tomake inferences from the relationships uncovered. OpenSocial Graph, for example, is an emerging Web standardfor these social graphs that was recently endorsed byFacebook. Now, both humans and machines can beginto decipher the relationships and qualities of our socialnetworks using sophisticated inference engines andother semantic computing techniques. Facebook hasalready experimented with this to some degree, by min-ing information to explore things like “the happiest daysof the year,” based on when people say they like things.SensorsNot all digital artifacts arise in the social sphere, however;many are created by electronic sensors. We are startingto wear sensors to measure our fitness and to monitor ourhealth and are installing a huge variety of sensors in ourhouseholds that will provide the raw data for machine infer-ence. This is likely to lead to future assistive environments.Similarly, hundreds of sensors and MEMs (Micro ElectroMechanical systems) are being embedded within our cars.Vehicle companies are just beginning to explore how thesesensors and probes can be harnessed persuasively to im-prove the safety and economies of our driving. As a result,we are starting to be surrounded by what could be calledtelepathic machinery—and making sense of it requires realcomputing power.2. SUPERCHARGED HUMAN-MACHINE INTERACTIONSIn the future, we will look back at typewriting interactionwith computers as a quaint relic, like tapping Morse codedots and dashes over a telegraph. User experience is rap-idly moved from sharing text, to sharing images and vid-eos, to sharing direct sensory experiences—from soundsand sights, to touch and mood. We will use technologiesto learn much more about who we are, about the peoplewe interact with, and ultimately about what it means to behuman. Companies like Google will offer a new class of in-teractive services. These computation-intensive processeswill make use of the growing scale and supercomputingpower of cloud computing, and will require large-scale pat-tern recognition, data mining, inference, machine learning,and complex interactive models and analytics.Multicore, cloud-served computingMulticore and cloud computing are enabling us to com-pletely rethink the kinds of computer and human interac-tions that are possible. New cloud-enabled models ofinteraction use will provide more intimate and responsiveexperiences by enabling people to, for example, carry ononline conversations with other people in other cultures intheir native languages.Google now has more than one million CPUs harnessedinto a single operating system to instantaneously answerqueries requiring millions of simultaneous instructions.This can be used, for example, to compare the patterns ofa spoken voice with millions of stored patterns of soundsof words, and to transcribe speech to text. Other emerg-ing applications compare a picture of a face with millionsof other faces, to recognize who the person is in a cameraviewfinder.Supercharged interactions between people and mediaare already used for high-end biometric authentication offingerprints, retinas, handprints, and sound prints for high-security applications. These capabilities are now migratingdown to common, ordinary experiences like:• Automatic speech recognition• Real-time language translation• Mining vast social graphs• Visual search by sending an image to a search engine• Gestural interfaces with games and mediaAll of these capabilities require massive computing re-sources to compare a simple pattern with millions of storedpatterns to infer a meaning. This is only possible with mod-ern multicore, and cloud-served, supercomputers.26
  31. 31. TECHNICAL FOUNDATIONS3. IMMERSIVE MEDIA VENUES FOR PERSUASIONThe same high-performance supercomputing resources arealso giving us enormous new powers to create simulationsthat are “realer than real,” based on rendering combinedwith complex modeled behaviors and interactions. Thesetechnologies will allow us to amplify our imagination bycreating environments that are photorealistic and that wecan accept as real. Applications include:• High-resolution simulations: Our video games andvideo media, business and scientific visualizations andour educational media will be able to display massivelycomplex dynamic models of both real and imaginaryphenomena, like histories, natural ecologies, and humanphysiologies.• Photorealistic graphics and animation with syn-thetic actors: High-performance computing can rendercomputer-generated images with such precision resolu-tion that these synthetic experiences cannot be visuallydistinguished from the physical world.Ubiquitous videoVideo is becoming ubiquitous, appearing on our mobiledevices and displays in our homes, workplaces and inpublic, and on millions of Internet channels. As it becomesintegrated with the Internet, in software and in Web-enabled televisions, video objects will become moreinteractive, offering us clickable, linked Web objects.Television networks and television manufactures aremaking the necessary investments to provide quality 3Dexperiences to us for a new generation of televisionsand projection environments. Finally, we are beginning toexperience videos linked to our locations, triggered by GPSand by barcode-like patterns. (For more in-depth analysisof video, please see IFTF’s Future of Video report, availableat realityThe first Web browsers enabled us to view hyper-linkedmedia on a page. Now the smart phone viewfinder isbecoming a Web browser to view and interact with digitallinked media, attached to the real world. Mobile users arealready experiencing the first generation of augmentedreality, using apps like Layar, Wikitude, and Junaio. Furtherapplications in development include augmented real-ity glasses, enhanced vehicle windows, and ultimately,digitally augmented contact lenses. The underlying data isoften geo-coded, or identified with latitude and longitude,and for future augmented reality applications, informationabout the elevation of the digital object will also probablyhave to be included. These first-generation viewers are sofar showing only a few narrow glimpses of a growing massof geo-coded data and media.There is a flood of location-based map data, geo-codedWeb pages, and live sensor data available on the Webusing new open standards like Keyhole Markup Language,a map description language used by Google Maps andGoogle Earth. The beauty of these standard codes isthat ideally, they can be viewable on any browser, just asan html Web page can be viewed by any Web browser.Unfortunately however, our GPS equipped phones can’tcalculate location accurately enough to display geo-codedobjects more precisely than 5-20 meters. This is a technicallimitation of both GPS, and of the data itself. Most geo-coded information does not yet include precise 3D coordi-nates (latitude, longitude, and elevation).Most first general smart phone AR applications rely on theGPS and an internal compass to show viewers only thegeneral location of the data. This works sufficiently wellfor finding a coffee shop, but not well enough to provideinformation about the fine detail of an object or place inview. However, new technical developments will enableboth creation and viewing of precisely located digital ob-jects. Big technology companies like Nokia, Microsoft, andGoogle are beginning to precisely locate digital objects bycomparing the image in the view to a stored pattern. Usingtheir vast network of computers and massive database ofimages, Google’s Goggles visual search application canidentify a picture of a place, like the Golden Gate bridge,and eventually will be able to calculate the “pose” of acamera, the field of view, and the precise distance of theviewer from the object in view. Nokia’s Point and Find, andMicrosoft’s Photosynth work similarly, and will ultimatelyoffer the same capability for people to both add a preciselylocated annotation to the real world and to discover thedigital information attached to physical places.By 2015, we will begin to see this kind of digital augmen-tation seamlessly through the first generation of specialeyeglasses equipped to show digital data overlaid on thereal world. By 2020, it is possible that these glasses willnot be necessary and that we will see the new digital worlddirectly through special wireless contact lenses, alreadyin development in University of Washington labs andelsewhere.Just as the hypertext Web changed the way we interactwith text, these new augmented reality technologies willchange the way we behave in the physical world. It isimportant that we begin to think now about the implica-tions of physical space transformed into information space.Clearly, we will not want to see everything online abouteverything we see. We will have to develop new ways toquery and filter the views of potentially vast amounts ofinformation in any place aggregated from thousands ofdigital objects describing the physical environment. Thissorting process will be central to the future of persuasion.27
  32. 32. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of
  33. 33. APPLICATIONSWe’ve identified transformative forces and emerging technology clusters that are transforming the future of per-suasion. They will have profound effects on storytelling, argumentation, and influence across all domains of dailylife. We’ve chosen four core areas to explore more deeply: advertising, health, learning, and governance. In each,we will see new persuasive voices emerge, from among others, our networks, the surfaces around us, or our owndigital reflections. Ads will become so persuasive that we won’t even think of them as ads. Learning, at its best,will be highly responsive to what students are actually doing, making knowledge more accessible to the humanbrain. More of us will be able to get ourselves to make those changes in personal health that have stymied somany of us for so long—eating better, staying more active. And everyday political discussions will be more com-plex than ever before, incorporating new forms of action. Read on to find out what this might mean for you.ApplicationsAdvertising, health, learning, governanceMARKETS:ADVERTISING EVERYWHERE AND NOWHEREThe arms race between advertisers and consumers ispoised to escalate, with advertisers using the tools of datamining, geo-location, and neurotechnology to take preciseaim at their target markets. Indeed, the very definition ofa target market will shift from demographics and psycho-graphics to specific individuals whose desires and aspi-rations are revealed by their digital trails online and theiractions in the physical world.Meanwhile, tomorrow’s generation of data-savvy youngpeople, with media creation as their first language, willdevelop resistance against intrusive new forms of context-aware, highly personalized advertising. After all, who wantsto be a “target”? They will be fluent in the language ofmarketing, and they will be advertisers themselves, seekingpublic engagement in their own creations. By becomingpractitioners of persuasion, they will more easily recognizewhen media is being used to control or manipulate them.Additionally, everyone will have access to the same data,which right now is the most valuable currency in the per-suasion economy.As a result, companies will feel pushed toward moreinvasive forms of persuasion, drawing from advances inneuroscience. Yet research on the psychology of happinessshows that we “buy” ourselves the greatest happinesswhen we spend our money on social activities or thingsthat lead to greater social connectedness. Out of this tugof war between empowered consumers and new advertis-ing practices bolstered by science and technology, the realtruth in advertising will finally emerge: the product is thestory, and it has to sell itself.A market segment of oneAs cyberspace becomes a layer on top of our existingreality, online advertising will shift into the physical realm.As described in Persuasive Force Three, TelepathicTechnologies, location-based ads are already beingpiloted. But advertisers are not the only ones who will takeadvantage of location-enabled services. Individuals willbe able to leave “digital graffiti,” with their own productreviews right outside the stores or even inside, next toparticular products.In a world where the digital and physical merge into ablended reality, every one of our actions, experiences, anddecisions becomes a data point. As we go about our dailylives, we are generating a digital trail that, now and forever,can be mined to reveal patterns about our past, our pres-ent, and possibly our future. In the near term, advertiserswill use these digital trails for intensified contextual andbehavioral targeting, delivering advertising online that isinformed by data about the websites we visit, the searcheswe conduct, our purchase histories, and the clues thesetrails offer about who we are as individuals.29
  34. 34. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionAs more data is collected and combined and as the sci-ence of analysis improves, the advertisements delivered tous will become highly personalized. With advertising andproduct placement creeping into all facets of our lives—from billboards with 3D video to mobile AR experiences—perhaps the positive side is that the ads will increasingly befor products and services we might actually want to buy.Signal: Monetizing content through meaningToday, marketers using systems like Google AdWords bidon the keywords on websites with the goal of deliveringrelevant ads adjacent to a site’s content. However, manywords have multiple meanings, and content can be veryeclectic, making it difficult for automated systems to gleancontext. OpenAmplify’s Web service for advertisers isbuilt on academic research on natural language process-ing. According to the company, OpenAmplify “reads andunderstands every word used” in e-mail, websites, tweets,or searches, and “identifies the significant topics, brands,people, perspectives, emotions, actions, and timescales”to deliver highly targeted ads in context.Advertising will move into all our digital channels, and theads will be so relevant to our conversations, activities, andexperiences at any given moment that the line betweenadvertising and everything else we are doing will blur.9Signal: Following in your digital footprintsOf course, as our digital lives move from the screen to thereal world, highly contextual advertising will follow. MITresearchers have pioneered methods for what they callReality Mining: collecting and analyzing bulk data frommobile devices to paint an accurate picture of human socialbehavior and even predict individuals’ future activities.The MIT research led to the formation of Sense Networks,a firm that helps its clients “understand customers andanticipate needs in order to deliver accurate recommen-dation, personalization and discovery—better than everbefore—without retaining customers’ original locationdata.” For example, the company’s Citysense applicationuses location data from your mobile phone to learn yourpatterns of movement. Based on that historical information,it can then recommend places you might enjoy. For retail-ers, it could provide insight into where consumers actuallyshop and how far they are willing to travel for a particularproduct orOpenAmplify is a Web service for advertisers built on naturallanguage processing.In the movie, Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s characterattempts to evade police, but is instantly identified by digitalbillboards delivering personalized advertisements.30
  35. 35. APPLICATIONSConsuming happinessOn the heels of the recession and the related drop in con-sumer spending in the United States, scientists are gainingnew insight into the age-old question of whether money re-ally can buy happiness. At the intersection of neuroscience,behavioral economics, and positive psychology, a science ofhappiness is emerging. For example, studies are consistentlyshowing that while spending money on “stuff” does makeus happy to a point—we have to feed, clothe, and houseourselves—we get the most satisfaction and are “happiest”when we buy social activities and connectedness.As learning from the science of happiness diffuses intothe public consciousness, we will see a shift in consumerspending. Some people may buy experiences rather thangoods, while others may decrease consumption across theboard. Advertising will be affected in two ways: first, wewill see an increase in marketing as companies scramble tofight a reduction in consumption; then, companies will beforced to rethink what they have to sell, perhaps leading tomore focus on innovating around intangible products andservices. Even if the products do remain the same, the waycompanies persuade us to buy them will be very different.Signal: Finding happiness in experiences, not thingsAccording to Stanford University researchers, marketingcampaigns that are focused on the experience of a productmore than possession of the product are much more ef-fective. Just think of catchy slogans like “It’s Miller Time”and Citibank’s “Live Richly.” In 2009, Ph.D. candidateCassie Mogilner and her colleagues studied hundreds ofmagazine ads and ran simple experiments to determinehow marketing references to “time” and ”money” affectedconsumer decisions and satisfaction. “Ultimately, time isa more scarce resource—once it’s gone, it’s gone—andtherefore more meaningful to us,” says Mogilner, who ledthe research. “How we spend our time says so much moreabout who we are than does how we spend our money ...When you refer to time, there is a big social componentthat integrates the products you use with the people in yourlife, which makes the product experience more meaningfuland richer.”11Signal: Spending on othersIn 2008, researchers found that spending money on oth-ers promotes happiness more than buying for oneself.Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin of the University of BritishColumbia, Michael Norton of Harvard Business School,and their colleagues surveyed more than 600 people. Theyfound that those who engaged in “prosocial spending”—gifts and charity—were happier. Then they looked at howanother group who had received bonuses at work spenttheir money, and how happy they were. “We found thatspending more of one’s income on others predicted greaterhappiness,” the researchers reported in their scientificpaper.1231
  36. 36. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionBrains and brandsYou say you prefer Pepsi to Coke, but what do you re-ally think? The field of neuromarketing aims to use brainimaging and electroencephalography (EEG) technologyto measure consumer preference and the effectiveness ofadvertising by observing how various stimuli affect brainactivity: Which commercial is more persuasive? Whatpackage design is most alluring? As we learn more aboutthe brain, neuromarketing will become another tool in theadvertising arsenal.However, the fact that a particular kind of music lights upa certain region of your brain does not mean that hearingthat tune next time will make you choose one brand ofsoap over another. More likely, what we learn about howthe brain works will result in various “marketing cocktails”of stimuli—auditory, visual, and even smells—that triggercertain emotional states or product brand associations.While the line between the brain scan and the “buy” but-ton is not as direct as some advertisers might hope, largemarketing firms will almost certainly start recruiting fromuniversity neuroscience programs. Protests will certainlyfollow, raising valid concerns about subliminal influence,the use of mind control for marketing, and the fact thataccess to that data will be controlled by the companiesrather than the individuals who opened their minds to themarketers. Neuromarketing for persuasion will be a volatilesubject, and one that most companies will have to managevery carefully.Signal: Measuring brainwaves for messagingLondon-based firm Mindmetic’s website reads like thedescription of an imaginary evil company in a sciencefiction novel: “Mind-reading technology!” “Predicting pre-conscious emotional response!” “Revolutionizing marketresearch by revealing true emotions!” The technologyconsists of 128 EEG sensors placed on the head to mea-sure electrical activity in the brain in response to marketingstimuli. European ad firm Bark Group signed on as a client“to leverage this state-of-the-art technology to craft higher-efficacy campaigns, to design copy and advertisementsthat are tailored to elicit both conscious and subconsciousconsumer reactions.”13Signal: Designing with biometricsCampbell’s Soup Company recently announced their useof biometrics, such as measurements of galvanic skinresponse (moisture) and heart rate, to determine con-sumer response to various product package designs. Thecompany partnered with Innerscope Research, a neuro-marketing firm, and others, on a two-year research effortthat combined the biometric data with deep surveys aboutCampbell’s as a brand and the experience of eating soup.14HEALTH: TARGETING WELL-BEINGAlthough many of us are motivated to quit smoking, loseweight, and exercise more in order to live healthier, longerlives, changing our daily habits can be a difficult chal-lenge. The future of self-persuasion looks good, though.Embedded sensors and other forms of context-awaretechnologies are beginning to provide opportunities for es-sential “just-in-time” feedback that encourages us to makehealthier decisions in the moment, wherever we may be.Smart devices already let us receive messages of praise orencouragement, subtle suggestions, and will begin to de-liver simulations that may lead us to change our behavior.They also keep us connected to our social networks, whichcan exert a powerful influence on us.The challenge for the future of persuasion in health will beto find the optimal balance between the pervasiveness ofthese technologies and our willingness to be influencedby them. Some people will embrace them; others, lessmotivated to improve their health, will reject such technolo-gies as intrusive. New insights into the underpinnings ofbehavior change may help shift this delicate balance.Ubiquitous computing for healthImagine if the environments in which we live, work, andplay could communicate with us about our health—forexample, if our pill bottles could remind us to follow ourdaily regimens, our office computers could tell us to takea break when we get too stressed, or our smart phonescould let us know that we can join a friend who is exer-cising nearby. We are starting to see embedded sensorsin everything, from the walls in our homes to the clotheswe wear, providing continuous wireless monitoring of ourbiometrics and activities, and triggering the delivery of just-in-time, contextualized, and customized feedback.These pervasive platforms provide relevant information fordecision-making, suggest healthy behaviors, and con-nect us to our social networks and health care teams forencouragement and support. The messaging we receivemay take many forms, including simulations, visualizations,or AR. For some, of course, the experience of pervasivemonitoring and feedback may feel too intrusive, so havingcontrol over the technology will be important.32
  37. 37. Making homes smart and persuasiveThe term “smart home” can refer to a highly automatedenvironment in which processors control the heating, light-ing, and other details. Taking this concept a step further,new research and experimental smart homes, such as thePlaceLab in Cambridge, MA, and the ORCATECH LivingLaboratory in Portland, OR15, are being developed withubiquitous wireless sensors and context-aware computingsystems that can provide just-in-time persuasive interfacesto residents.One example of sensing technology that is being devel-oped to help people be more mindful of their health behav-ior is the MIT Media Lab’s ReflectOns, which they describeas “mental prostheses that help people think about theiractions and change their behavior based on subtle, ambi-ent nudges delivered at the moment of action.”16Theprototype fork ReflectOn addresses the issue of weightcontrol without focusing on counting calories. Instead, ittakes into account several recent studies that have shownthat the old admonition, “wolfing down your food will makeyou fat,” may be true, and that eating more slowly mightprevent weight gain.17The fork measures the time betweenbites and provides subtle haptic feedback when the user iseating too quickly. Eventually, ReflectOn devices will fea-ture unobtrusive sensors that can be embedded through-out a smart home.Signal: Prodding patients to take their medicineAnother company capitalizing on the move toward ubiq-uitous computing is GlowCaps. By simply integrating atiming system into a standard prescription bottle, theyhave managed to dramatically increase the timeliness ofpharmaceutical treatments. Prescription bottles equippedwith GlowCaps first glow to indicate that it is time to takemedication, then play an increasingly loud ringtone beforefinally sending a patient a text message reminder. In dem-onstration, this simple innovation increased adherence tomedication schedules among people with hypertensionfrom 61 toPrototype of a ReflectOn sensor, which providesreal-time feedback to the user.PlaceLab is an apartment-scale shared researchfacility where new technologies and conceptscan be tested in an everyday livingGlowCaps fit on regular prescription bottles andprovide alerts indicating that it’s time to takemedication.33
  38. 38. INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE | The Future of PersuasionRewards for healthy behaviorWe know it is not easy to consistently make decisions thatare good for our health. Would it help if we were rewardedfor engaging in healthy behaviors, not only with improvedhealth outcomes in the long term but also with immedi-ate incentives? Principles of behavioral economics canmove us in that direction, particularly when combinedwith elements of game play. Technology makes it easier todecrease people’s natural tendency to discount how a de-cision today will affect their health in the future, by makingsmall but tangible rewards for healthy behavior available tothem in the short term.In their 2008 book, Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sun-stein presented the concept of choice architecture, whichincludes creating opportunities (“nudges”) that make ahealthy choice easier or more desirable (that is, by provid-ing rewards). In a recent blog post about Let’s Move, agovernment program dedicated to solving the childhoodobesity epidemic, Thaler and Sunstein noted that gettingchildren to exercise for an hour a day will be one of the keynudges involved in the program.20Signal: Competing for exercise pointsSwitch2Health (S2H) is a company that seeks to motivatetweens and teens to exercise by rewarding them for physi-cal activity. Its S2H REPLAY21is a sophisticated wrist-worndevice that combines a multi-axis activity sensor withproprietary algorithms that verify that the user has engagedin continuous moderate intensity physical activity (such asbrisk walking, playing tag, or jumping rope) for 60 minutes(divided into 20 three-minute segments). It then generatesa 12-digit encrypted code that users enter on the S2Hwebsite; points are earned and accumulated toward avariety of rewards. also features a leaderboard,which promotes “healthy competition” by encouraging us-ers to move up the board by being more physically active.Signal: Rewarding kids with diabetes forglucose monitoringA similar technique is employed by a blood glucose moni-tor, called the Didget, that Bayer has begun producing forchildren with diabetes. The monitor interfaces with theportable Nintendo DS game system and rewards playerswith points when they check blood glucose levels. Pointsaccumulate to unlock new game levels and to purchasecustomized in-gameSwitch2Health has partnered witha community youth health programsponsored by Paul Pierce, thecaptain of the Boston Celtics.34