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Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mobile Fitness Applications: A Survey


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Obesity is a major issue around the world. It is the main reason for several chronic diseases. Obesity can be stopped by encouraging people to do physical activities and making behaviour intervention regarding lifestyle. Mobile fitness apps are emerging because of the unique features that are provided. They are seen as a vital tool to motivate people suffering from obesity to perform physical activities and make behaviour intervention regarding health and fitness. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies have been used successfully in different kinds of mobile apps. This paper presents a systematic review of some of the most recent AG and VR researches in mobile apps. It discusses the main findings of applying both technologies in different fields of mobile apps. Based on this systematic review, a fitness mobile app for obese individuals that consider both AR and VR technology will be developed.
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Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mobile
Fitness Applications: A Survey
Ryan Alturki and Valerie Gay
1 Introduction
Obesity is a major health problem around the world. Obesity can be defined as
abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health [1]. Around the
world, 15% of the current population are considered to be obese, and almost 40%
of the current population are suffering from overweight [2]. Both obesity and
overweight are seen as the main reason for several dangerous chronic diseases, for
example, diabetes and hypertension [3,4]. As a result of this, several researchers
were motivated to find a way to control and stop the spread of obesity [58].
The majority of researchers’ results concluded that obesity could be controlled
and stopped by doing physical exercises and changing eating habits. Nevertheless,
several experts believe that to motivate people who are suffering from obesity to
lose weight and have a better lifestyle is not easy. They believe that behaviour
intervention is seen as one of the best ways for changing behaviour that is related to
fitness and health [9,10].
During the last few years, the use of fitness mobile apps is becoming popular
around the world and especially by people suffering from obesity and want to lose
weight to have a better lifestyle. According to a recent study, the internationalfitness
technology market is estimated to be worth around 19 billion US dollars in 2014
[11]. According to a report undertaken by Nielsen’s Mobile NetView, one-third
(46 millions) of US smartphone owners use fitness mobile apps [12]. Around the
world, 16% of all Internet users use health and fitness mobile apps [13]. In 2014,
R. Alturki · V. Gay ()
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo,
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
F. Khan et al. (eds.), Applications of Intelligent Technologies in Healthcare,
EAI/Springer Innovations in Communication and Computing,
68 R. Alturki and V. Gay
the mobile app business had expanded by 15% overall. Regarding average daily
usage, the number of health and fitness apps increased by 62% [14].
Supporting health behaviour change via using mobile fitness and health apps is
promising. The number of fitness and health apps has increased rapidly in the last
few years, and by today, there are more than 31,000fitness and health apps available
to use [15]. Moreover, the interest of how fitness’ apps role can influence the
behaviour of people who suffer from obesity is growing. A recent study introduced
a framework that named “Functional Triad” which aims to describe the device’s
role in the device-human interaction [16]. The study explains that devices can act
as tools, mediums and social actors for motivating human. For instance, fitness
mobile apps can play the role of predisposing tools for diffusing fitness information.
Furthermore, personal information regarding users’ behaviour can be collected by
them and can connect users to several social networks.
To influence the behaviour of obese individuals, fitness mobile apps should have
unique features that play an important role in motivating obese individuals. A recent
survey states that there are four main features that motivate obese individuals to use
fitness mobile apps in order to lose weight and have a better lifestyle. These features
are [17]:
Goal settings
Monitoring, tracking and feedback
Reminders and alerts
Rewards or gamification
However, there are several technologies that have emerged over the last year and
had been used widely in mobileapps as a motivational tool, for example, augmented
reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Pokémon Go is a mobile app game that uses
AR technology as an entertainment tool. According to a recent report, Pokémon Go
has been downloaded 650 million times around the world [18].
This research seeks to contribute to significant researches concerning both AG
and VR technologies in mobile apps.The aim of this study is to conduct a systematic
review which reveals the most prominent and recent AG and VR studies in mobile
apps that have been discussed and have emerged in the literature. This research
is going to be useful for developing a fitness mobile app that considers both AG
and VR technologies. This survey is unique because it discusses some of the most
contemporary literature.
2 The Systematic Review
We undertook a systematic review to search for published, peer-reviewed articles
that investigated AG and VR in mobile apps. We utilised the terminology outlined
in the table below (Table 1) to look for research papers covering AG and VR in
mobile devices and applications. We sought to incorporate all the related terms that
could provide us with articles relevant to this topic.
Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mobile Fitness Applications: A Survey 69
Tab l e 1 Keywords used in the systematic review relating to AG and VR technologies in mobile
Search lines Search terms Filtered by
Line 1 Mobile device or mobile phone or smartphone Title/abstract
2. AND Applications or apps Title/abstract
3. AND Fitness applications or fitness apps Title/abstract
4. AND Augmented reality or AR Title/abstract
5. AND Virtual reality or VR Title/abstract
6. AND Augmented reality in mobile applications or AR in
mobile apps or AR in apps
7. AND Virtual reality in mobile applications or VR in
mobile apps or VR in apps
We referred to JMIR, CINAHL, Academic Search Premier, PsycINFO, Health
Source, Communication and Mass Media Complete, Computers and Applied
Sciences Complete, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection, Computer
Source, PubMed, Web of Science and PsycARTICLES.
We have followed the methodology from [17], and the flow chart below shows
how the systematic review was undertaken (Fig. 1).
We conducted a systematic literature review of AR and VR in mobile apps. We
looked for articles that discussed AR and VR in mobile devices and applications.
We also conducted a comprehensiveliterature review on AR and VR in mobile apps
and tried to figure out the important attributes discussed in these papers.
3.1 Augmented Reality in Mobile Apps
In AR, physical reality can become enhanced through the additional information
that computers can generate in real time [19]. Over the time, the definition of AR
has been broadened, and the following properties are believed to be part of any AR
system [20]:
AR systems combine virtual and real objects in a real environment.
AR systems run in real time and interactively.
AR systems align or register virtual and real objects with each other.
Milgram and Kishino introduced a continuum of real-to-virtual environments.
In the continuum, they showed AR as part of mixed reality. The surrounding
environment in AR is always real unlike augmented virtuality and virtual envi-
70 R. Alturki and V. Gay
Records identified through database
Records after duplicates removed
Records after initial screening of title
and abstract
Records excluded on
the basis of title and
abstract n=15
Final exclusion (Non-
mobile studies,
qualitative studies)
Full text articles accessed for final
Studies included for qualitative
Included Eligibility Screening Identification
Fig. 1 Methodology for the systematic review
ronments [21]. AR has greatly improved over the last few decades, and today
AR usage is built into smartphone apps such as AR Travel Guide [22]. The
concept of AR technology has been proven to have been effectively applied to
mobile devices [23]. Rohs and Gfeller proposed the use of portable devices and
smartphones rather than specialised hardware to build AR apps [24]. According
to Hollerer and Feiner, mobile AR is a combination of various components such
as display technology, computational platform, global tracking technologies, data
access technology, wireless communication and interaction technology [25].
Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mobile Fitness Applications: A Survey 71
There are many apps with AR features developed for various purposes. These
features have been found to enhance the mobile applications’ usability. There were
different approaches discussed by experts to improve learnability of mobile apps
Improving graphical icon characteristics that present icon usability and concrete-
Introducing multilayered interfaces to allow the users to adopt an improved
mental framework and reduce complexity
Enhancing the mobile device’s interface through the use of a larger display that
allows for guidance and feedback in real time
Augmented mobile apps better enable the use of mobile devices amongst those
with declining cognitive ability such as the elderly [27]. Kim and Dey discovered
that the use of AR in the windshield displays of vehicles that help older people
in cognitive mapping was very effective [28]. The findings showed a noticeable
decrease in terms of distractions and errors in navigation when compared to earlier
models of such windshield displays designed for the elderly. AR uses have also
been discussed in the tourism sector. A research identified the benefits of using AR
in tourism mobile apps through developing and evaluating a tourist mobile app with
augmented reality. The results proved that AR enhances the tourist experience in an
innovative way. Therefore, AR apps in different industries can improve the quality
of service [29].
AR in mobile apps represents a great opportunity for better access to digital and
print library collections. Mobile apps with AR technology deliver an interactive
and engaging information experience. AR can help apps overlay graphical data, and
this makes apps with AR technology well-suited for engagement in both library
and real-world off-site interaction with the content. A research by Hahn introduces
mobile AR apps for next-generation library services and uses [30]. The study shows
that mobile AR apps can help augment browsing of physical book stacks, optical
character recognition, facial recognition and library navigation. The paper suggests
mobile AR uses and apps in library settings as well as introduces a model to
demonstrate a prototype interface.
3.2 Virtual Reality in Mobile Apps
VR is defined as a computer-simulated or immersive multimedia reality [31].
VR technology uses computers to replicate an imagined or real environment. It
allows user interaction through simulating the user’s physical environment and
presence. VR can artificially create sensory experience, such as touch, sight, smell
and hearing. The origins of VR came from the science fiction world. In 1935
Stanley G. Weinbaum’s short story ‘Pygmalion’s Spectacles’ is considered as a
pioneer work of fiction that introduces VR. The story describes a VR system
operated via goggles which used holographic simulations to record users’ fictional
72 R. Alturki and V. Gay
experiences and incorporated the senses of smell and touch [32]. Bob Sproull
and Ivan Sutherland in 1968 created the first AR and VR head-mounted display
(HMD) system [33]. In 1978, MIT created the Aspen Movie Map that is one of the
more famous hypermedia and virtual reality systems. This programme was more
of Aspen’s virtual simulation. People could explore a town’s streets in a ‘polygon’
mode as well as two others labelled ‘winter’ and ‘summer’; two of these relied
on photographs. The developers’ purpose was to capture every possible journey
through the city’s network of roads and streets. The third mode was a 3-D model
of the town [34]. Street View was then introduced by Google in 2007; it consists
of panoramic views of numerous worldwide locations that include indoor buildings,
roads and rural areas. In 2010, a stereoscopic mode was introduced [35]. Virtual
reality is used then in many mobile apps in order to enhance UX.
Mobile apps related to health, education and gaming now increasingly have
virtual reality features to increase the usability of the app. A research designed
an educational game with virtual reality, and the results demonstrated that the
game was likeable and usable. The researchers, however, believed there was ample
scope for improvement in likeability and usability to maximise educational benefits
[36]. A study presented an environment in a demo that enabled users to explore
different three-dimensional (3D) visualisations on tablets and smartphones [37]. A
performance- and feedback-based app was tested and compared to a gamed-based
one with virtual reality [38]. The aim was to examine their effects on aspects of
immediate response to an exercise bout. The participants reported the app with
virtual reality had a more associative attentional focus.
VR offers a lot of useful apps for tourism and deserve greater attention from
tourism professionals and researchers. A study shows that with the continuous
evolutionof VR technology, the significance and number of such apps will increase.
Marketing, planning and management, entertainment, heritage preservation, educa-
tion and accessibility are some areas of tourism in which VR could prove to be very
valuable [39]. The study also emphasises that new challenges and questions will
emerge with further integration of VR and tourism. Tozsa discusses how VR can
be useful in public administration services. The article suggests that virtual reality
mobile apps can help in the field of e-government andthe services provided through
such apps have the simplest tools for navigation and a more attractive outlay than
traditional e-government websites. He believes that with future developments in VR
such as 3-D, administration could have a variety of useful apps [40].
4 Evaluation and Future Work
Both AR and VR technologies have been applied in several mobile apps. They have
been used in different fields, for example, education, transportation and tourism.
Moreover, both technologies can be used amongst those with declining cognitive
ability such as the elderly. As both technologies have proven that they can be used
successfully in different fields by a various group of people, our future work will
Augmented and Virtual Reality in Mobile Fitness Applications: A Survey 73
involve developing fitness mobile apps that include the use of both AR and VR
technologies as a motivational tool. The app will be designed for obese individuals
to help them be motivated and lose weight to have a healthy lifestyle. The app will
also consider the four main motivational features from the recent survey.
5 Conclusion
The literature review shows that obesity is a major problem all over the world.
Obesity is defined as excessive fat in the human body. The percentage of people
suffering from obesity is increased to around 15%. Obesity is one of the reasons
for several chronic diseases such as diabetes. Several experts believe that obesity
can be fought and stopped by engaging obese individuals to perform in physical
activities. However, it is hard to motivate or keep obese individuals motivated to
perform physical activities for losing weight to have a better lifestyle. Yet, the
majority of experts concluded that behaviour intervention could be the solution for
changing behaviour. The use of fitness mobile apps is becoming popular around the
world as 16% of smartphone owners use fitness and health apps. Several experts
claim that fitness behaviour interventions can be gained via using fitness mobile
apps especially for those people who are suffering from obesity.
Fitness mobile apps have unique features that play an important role in order
to motivate or keep obese individuals to do physical activates. According to the
results from a recent study, there are four key features that help to motivate
obese individuals. These features are (1) goal settings; (2) monitoring, tracking and
feedback; (3) reminders and alerts; and (4) reward or gamification. However, there
are more new technologies (AR and VR) that become popular amongst mobile app
users and can be applied to help obese individuals to lose weight.
This study aims to investigate on the benefit of using both AR and VR in mobile
apps. A systematic review of the most recent researches and articles that studied
the use of AG and VR in mobile apps has been done. We found that AR and
VR have played a major role to enable a better use of mobile devices and apps.
They have been used in a variety of fields in mobile apps, for example, education,
transportation and tourism. Moreover, both technologies are used by users with a
declining cognitive ability such as the elderly. These results have encouraged us to
consider applying both AR and VR when we start developing a new fitness mobile
app. Our assumption is that as both technologies have advantages in other fields,
they can have a positive effect on the fitness field. The app will be designed and
developed specifically for people who are suffering from obesity and want to be
motivated to lose weight and have a better lifestyle.
74 R. Alturki and V. Gay
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The unprecedented outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), during early December 2019 in Wuhan, China, has quickly evolved into a global pandemic, became a matter of grave concern, and placed government agencies worldwide in a precarious position. The scarcity of resources and lack of experiences to endure the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the fear of future consequences has established the need for adoption of emerging and future technologies to address the upcoming challenges. Since the last five months, the amount of pandemic impact has reached its pinnacle that is altering everyone's life; and humans are now bound to adopt safe ways to survive under the risk of being affected. Technological advances are now accelerating faster than ever before to stay ahead of the consequences and acquire new capabilities to build a safer world. Thus, there is a rising need to unfold the power of emerging, future and disruptive technologies to explore all possible ways to fight against COVID-19. In this review article, we attempt to study all emerging, future, and disruptive technologies that can be utilized to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Building on background insights, detailed technological specific use cases to fight against COVID-19 have been discussed in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). As concluding remarks, we highlight prioritized research areas and upcoming opportunities to blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological domain-specific challenges and also illuminate collaborative research directions for moving towards a post-COVID-19 world.
... Obesity can be defined as an act that stores additional energy within a human body in the form of fat [1]. A recent study states that around 13% of the world population suffers from obesity, and almost 40% of the world population is considered to be overweight [2]. ...
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Obesity is considered as the main health issue worldwide. The obesity rate within Saudi's citizens is rising alarmingly. The Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled mobile apps can assist obese Saudi users in losing weight via collecting sensitive personal information and then providing accurate and personalized weight loss advice. These data can be collected using embedded IoT devices in a smartphone. However, these IoT-enabled apps should be usable and able to provide data security and user privacy protection. This paper aims to continue our usability study for two Arabic weight loss IoT-enabled apps by performing a qualitative analysis for them. It discusses users' and health professionals' feedbacks, concerns and suggestions. Based on the analysis, a comprehensive usability guideline for developing a new Arabic weight loss IoT-enabled app for obese Saudi users is provided.
... Obesity means storing extra energy in the shape of fat [1]. It can lead to many health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues [2,3]. ...
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Obesity and overweight are considered a health threat globally. Saudi Arabia is a country that has a high percentage of people suffering from obesity. These people can be helped to lose weight through the usage of mobile apps as these apps can collect users' personal information. These collected data is used to provide precise and personalized weight loss advices. However, weight loss apps must be user friendly, provide data security and user privacy protection. In this paper, we analyze the usability, security, and privacy of a weight loss app. Our main aim to clarify the data privacy and security procedure and test the usability level of the new Arabic weight loss app 'Akser Waznk' that is developed considering the social and cultural norms of Saudi users.
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Obesity is a major global challenge. It increases the risk of developing health problems such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Its prevalence puts pressure on the healthcare systems and on individuals’health and finances as well. The use of fitness technology, mobile apps and wearable devices in supporting health behaviour change is promising. Fitness technology not only expands opportunities for users to access health related information but also facilitate cueing behaviour change and collection of ongoing personal data. The objective of this paper is to identify the features that should be supported by health and fitness apps and fitness wearable devices to encourage obese individuals to be active, change their lifestyle and to keep them motivated to overcome obesity. Firstly, it investigates the effectiveness and the efficiency of prevalent fitness apps and fitness wearable devices design features used to encourage physical activity. It then provides a method to evaluate bothfitness apps and fitness wearable devices as motivational tools. The results regarding mobile apps highlight that goal setting, monitoring/tracking and feedback are the best features for motivation and that Zombie Run is the best fitness app for the Australian market in 2015. The results in regards to wearable devices emphasise reminders, tracking / monitoring/ feedback and goals / rewards are the best features for motivation and that Garmin Vivofitis the best fitness wearable devices for the American market in 2015.These results are useful for the users; fitness apps’ and fitness wearable devices’ developers because they provide some understanding of the various features needed to motivate individuals.
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Behavioral treatment is an approach used to help individuals develop a set of skills to achieve a healthier weight. It is more than helping people to decide what to change; it is helping them identify how to change. The behavior change process is facilitated through the use of self-monitoring, goal setting, and problem solving. Studies suggest that behavioral treatment produces weight loss of 8–10% during the first 6 mo of treatment. Structured approaches such as meal replacements and food provision have been shown to increase the magnitude of weight loss. Most research on behavioral treatment has been conducted in university-based clinic programs. Although such studies are important, they tell us little about the effectiveness of these approaches in settings outside of specialized clinics. Future research might focus more on determining how these behavioral techniques can be best applied in a real-world setting.
This study serves as an introduction to how virtual reality systems could be applied in public administration and what research tasks would be necessary to accomplish a project. E-government solutions began to emerge in public administration approximately a decade ago all over the developed world. Administration service facilities via the Internet did not attract many customers, because of the digital divide. E-government solutions were extended to mobile devices as well, but the expected breakthrough of usage has not ensued. The virtual reality form of public administration services recommended in this study has the most attractive outlay and the simplest navigation tools if compared to 'traditional' Internet based e-government. Thus, in accordance with the worldwide amazingly quick spread of the virtual reality systems of Second Life and 3 D types of entertainment, virtual reality applications in public administration could rely on a wide range of acceptance as well.
Background Given the popularity of mobile applications (apps) designed to increase exercise participation, it is important to understand their effects on psychological predictors of exercise behavior. Purpose This study tested a performance feedback-based app compared to a game-based app to examine their effects on aspects of immediate response to an exercise bout. Methods Twenty-eight participants completed a 30-min treadmill run while using one of two randomly assigned mobile running apps: Nike + Running, a performance-monitoring app which theoretically induces an associative, goal-driven state, or Zombies Run!, an app which turns the experience of running into a virtual reality game, theoretically inducing dissociation from primary exercise goals. Results The two conditions did not differ on primary motivational state outcomes; however, participants reported more associative attentional focus in the performance-monitoring app condition compared to more dissociative focus in the game-based app condition. Conclusions Game-based and performance-tracking running apps may not have differential effects on goal motivation during exercise. However, game-based apps may help recreational exercisers dissociate from exercise more readily. Increasing the enjoyment of an exercise bout through the development of new and innovative mobile technologies is an important avenue for future research.
Conference Paper
Mobile AR has evolved from the bulkiness of head-mounted device and backpack device to smart device (smartphone, tablet etc.). To date, the current implementation has made what AR is today. However, the advancement of AR technology has met with limitation and challenges on its own, which resulted in not able to reach mass-market. This paper in turn presents current limitations and challenges that need to overcome. We have done a review based on past research papers on limitation in technical (hardware, algorithms and interaction technique) and non-technical (social acceptance, privacy and usefulness) aspects of developing and implementing mobile augmented reality applications. We also presented some future opportunities in mobile AR applications.
From the Publisher: This in-depth review of current virtual reality technology and its applications provides a detailed analysis of the engineering, scientific and functional aspects of virtual reality systems and the fundamentals of VR modeling and programming. It also contains an exhaustive list of present and future VR applications in a number of diverse fields. Virtual Reality Technology is the first book to include a full chapter on force and tactile feedback and to discuss newer interface tools such as 3-D probes and cyberscopes. Supplemented with 23 color plates and more than 200 drawings and tables which illustrate the concepts described.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce mobile augmented reality applications for library uses and next generation library services. Design/methodology/approach – Examples are drawn from museum and archives informatics, computer science applied research, and computer vision research as well as original research and development work from the Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois. Findings – Mobile augmented reality uses include augmenting physical book stacks browsing, library navigation, optical character recognition, facial recognition, and building identification mobile software for compelling library experiences. Originality/value – The paper suggests uses of mobile augmented reality applications in library settings and models a demonstration prototype interface.