Talk and Tools: The best of both worlds in mobile user interfaces for E-coaching

Robbert Jan Beun, Siska Fitrianie, Fiemke Griffioen-Both, Sandor Spruit, Corine Horsch, Jaap Lancee, Willem-Paul Brinkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, a user interface paradigm, called Talk-and-Tools, is presented for automated e-coaching. The paradigm is based on the idea that people interact in two ways with their environment: symbolically and physically. The main goal is to show how the paradigm can be applied in the design of interactive systems that offer an acceptable coaching process. As a proof of concept, an e-coaching system is implemented that supports an insomnia therapy on a smartphone. A human coach was replaced by a cooperative virtual coach that is able to interact with a human coachee. In the interface of the system, we distinguish between a set of personalized conversations (“Talk”) and specialized modules that form a coherent structure of input and output facilities (“Tools”). Conversations contained a minimum of variation to exclude unpredictable behavior but included the necessary mechanisms for variation to offer personalized consults and support. A variety of system and user tests was conducted to validate the use of the system. After a 6-week therapy, some users spontaneously reported the experience of building a relationship with the e-coach. It is concluded that the addition of a conversational component fills an important gap in the design of current mobile systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-674
Number of pages14
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • User interface paradigms
  • Talk-and-tools
  • Automated e-coaching
  • Conversation
  • Tools
  • Persuasive strategies
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Insomnia
  • Virtual coach


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