Assessing smart phones for generating life-space indicators

Neng Wan, Wenyu Qu, Jackie Whittington, Bradley C. Witbrodt, Mary Pearl Henderson, Evan H. Goulding, A. Katrin Schenk, Stephen J. Bonasera, Ge Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Life-space is a promising method for estimating older adults' functional status. However, traditional life-space measures are costly and time consuming because they often rely on active subject participation. This study assesses the feasibility of using the global positioning system (GPS) function of smart phones to generate life-space indicators. We fi rst evaluated the location accuracy of smart-phone-collected GPS points versus those acquired by a commercial GPS unit. We then assessed the specifi city of the smartphone- processed life-space information against the traditional diary method. Our results suggested comparable location accuracy between the smart phone and the standard GPS unit in most outdoor situations. In addition, the smart-phone method revealed more comprehensive life-space information than the diary method, which leads to higher and more consistent life-space scores. We conclude that the smart-phone method is more reliable than traditional methods for measuring life-space. Further improvements will be required to develop a robust application of this method that is suitable for health-related practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • Activity space
  • Functional status
  • GIS
  • GPS
  • Life-space
  • Mobility
  • Smart phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science


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