smart coach

Introducing Duels: The Ultimate Step Competition

If you had entered Jawbone’s San Francisco office over the last few months, you would have witnessed various members of the the team doing laps around the office. This boost in drive and motivation has been in large part due to the epic head-to-head challenge feature that we have been developing and testing to help our users get more active.

We are excited to announce the release of this new feature today. We call it Duels. And we can’t wait for you to try it.

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It all started with one insight about the UP community. Those with more teammates took more steps, and they were more likely to stay active. In fact, those who have just two teammates in the UP system move, on average, 7% more than those who go it alone.

Next, we explored the use of competition. Studies have shown that, if used in the wrong way, competition can actually be demotivating. To get it right, we turned to a body of research that has been in the works since 1950s. Over that period, behavioral economists and psychologists have identified a formula for “appropriate competition” that has the greatest likelihood of driving improved performance.

Some of these learnings were as simple as deemphasizing the importance of ‘winning’ and creating simple, straightforward rules. We incorporated the learnings from this research into the fundamental design of our system.

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Of course, we know that winning is fun. However, we turned to game psychology design to understand how to address losing. After all, nobody enjoys losing right? Think again. Studies reveal that even the most dedicated gamers tend to spend 80% of their time losing. Coming in second place teaches us, motivates us, and ultimately helps us understand how we can do better next time. These motivation cues are exactly what we have built into Duels using the Smart Coach System.

Leveraging this research from behavioral scientists and game designers, we have built a system we believe will help uncover daily opportunities to stay active. By helping us understand how we can improve, not only are we more likely to stay engaged, but more importantly, we start to internalize lessons on how to fit more activity into our busy lives. Whether it’s suggesting a walking meeting at work or opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, remember: our Duels feature is just the scoreboard. This competition is won and lost on your neighborhood blocks and office stairways.

Let the games begin. #DuelUP

A Duel is a head-to-head step battle lasting 24 hours, 3 days or 1 week. Step more than your opponent to win. Track your steps and log them in the latest update of the UP® App using any UP® fitness tracker, Apple Watch, Android Wear device, Pebble, or compatible phone. (Read this to find out how to connect your Apple Watch to UP).


About The Author

Kelvin Kwong
  • Kelvin Kwong
  • Director of Product Management, Head of Behavior Change

Kelvin leads a cross-functional team building experiences to facilitate behavior change to improve health outcomes. At Jawbone, he takes the learnings from behavioral science out of textbooks and into the hands of the UP community. Kelvin previously spent time at Amazon, as an investor and as a professional magician for nearly a decade -- and no, we’re not playing two truths and a lie. Follow him at @kelvinskwong if your heart desires.