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The New York Timeshas a story about how a bunch of IBM engineers came up with a new computer program designed " to make shedding pounds as geekily fun as playing Xbox, but with an added incentive: the opportunity to win cash.

"The idea for this program, which recently won patent approval, was simple: participants would be rewarded for eating well and discouraged from eating poorly. So a salad for lunch could mean winning 50 cents. Pecan pie? Forget it.

"The invention is an example of how gamification — applying game techniques and psychology to influence behavior in the real world — is affecting the health arena. Eventually, IBM hopes to license the system to companies or insurers as they seek to improve employees’ well-being."
KC's View:
It is an interesting concept with all sorts of implications. It would require companies and insurers to get perhaps more intimately involved with people's lives than some would be comfortable with, and also would require people to be honest in their reporting. (Perhaps there would be a penalty if one's actions did match up with one's results?) Not only will there be questions about appropriateness, but also about privacy.

I'm reasonably sure that people should not be penalized for not opting into such programs, but they easily could be incentivized for joining up and getting positive results - I do think that in all things, people ought to be rewarded for positive behavior.

The other interesting thing about the concept is how it points to a broader trend - the routes we all will have to take in order to appeal to the next generation of consumers and employees. "Gamification," , the Times calls it?