General Architecture for Development of Virtual Coaches for Healthy Habits Monitoring and Encouragement

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Dec 30;19(1):108. doi: 10.3390/s19010108.


Good health is the result of a healthy lifestyle, where caring about physical activity and nutrition are key concerns. However, in today's society, nutritional disorders are becoming increasingly frequent, affecting children, adults, and elderly people, mainly due to limited nutrition knowledge and the lack of a healthy lifestyle. A commonly adopted therapy to these imbalances is to monitor physical activity and daily habits, such as recording exercise or creating custom meal plans to count the amount of macronutrients and micronutrients acquired in each meal. Nowadays, many health tracking applications (HTA) have been developed that, for instance, record energy intake as well as users' physiological parameters, or measure the physical activity during the day. However, most existing HTA do not have a uniform architectural design on top of which to build other applications and services. In this manuscript, we present system architecture intended to serve as a reference architecture for building HTA solutions. In order to validate the proposed architecture, we performed a preliminary evaluation with 15 well recognized experts in systems and software architecture from different entities around world and who have estimated that our proposal can generate architecture for HTA that is adequate, reliable, secure, modifiable, portable, functional, and with high conceptual integrity. In order to show the applicability of the architecture in different HTA, we developed two telemonitoring systems based on it, targeted to different tasks: nutritional coaching (Food4Living) and physical exercise coaching (TrainME). The purpose was to illustrate the kind of end-user monitoring applications that could be developed.

Keywords: healthy habits; software architecture evaluation; software development; systems and software architectures; telemonitoring; virtual coaches.

MeSH terms

  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Exercise*
  • Habits
  • Healthy Lifestyle / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Software*