Location-based reminders are a specific type of software that connect to a mobile device’s camera or GPS system. Unlike event reminders, which are essentially looping timers set to certain times of day, a location-based reminder can be programed based on certain environmental conditions. Location reminders are useful organization tools and prompts for tasks when a user enters the appropriate environment, such as reminding a user to grab their book bag as they leave the house in the morning. As technology has improved, so has the functionality of these apps;they can accurately detect changes in general location and use that information to send prompts in the form of texts, beeps, or other a musical cue (Lin & Hung, 2013).
Like common timers, location-based reminders can be used to send a signal such as beeps, vibrations, text messages, or even play a song from a playlist. The research on location-based reminders has focused on using text messages (Sarabi et al, 2016). This study showed that in the medical community, the effectiveness of automated reminders strongly increased patient adherence to their medication schedule. Several dozen studies have shown on average patients improve schedule accuracy by approximately 85% (Sarabi et al., 2016). Most studies reviewed in Sarabi’s literature review have had positive effects, with only a small handful showing minimal to no effects, and none with negative effects. However, almost every study that has been conducted has looked at interval reminders.
The studies which looked at location-based reminders specifically have shown similarly positive effects (Takizawa, 2017). Patients with vision impairment who were given audio reminders when their phone cameras detected certain pre-programmed settings were able to learn and remember more about their environment than individuals who were not given audio reminders. Other exploratory studies have shown location-based reminders work in a similar fashion to typical reminders, and may be particularly effective for the individuals who have dementia (Lin & Hung, 2013).
Research Rating: There is sufficient evidence to show that reminders apps increase the frequency of desired behavior. The limited evidence that is available on location based reminders specifically is consistent with the larger body of research on reminder apps, however further confirmation of these results would strengthen these claims.
Very easy to use, making these feasible for lower functioning individuals to use
Effective at keeping individuals on schedule
Can be loaded onto a smartphone
Most of the research is related to medication; may not be as strong effects for more complicated and effortful tasks.
As with all reminders, too many reminders has been shown to frustrate individuals. Multiple reminders per day has been described by individuals in studies as “excessive” and “annoying”. Furthermore, making reminders too frequent may reduce the effects of each reminder notification as individuals can build up a tolerance to these notifications and get used to ignoring them (Sarabi et al., 2016).
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Foster, J. M., Usherwood, T., Smith, L., Sawyer, S. M., Xuan, W., Rand, C. S., & Reddel, H. K. (2014). Inhaler reminders improve adherence with controller treatment in primary care patients with asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 134(6). doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.041
Lin, C., & Hung, M. (2013). A location-based personal task reminder for mobile users. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 18(2), 303-314. doi:10.1007/s00779-013-0646-2
Sarabi, R. E., Sadoughi, F., Orak, R. J., & Bahaadinbeigy, K. (2016). The Effectiveness of Mobile Phone Text Messaging in Improving Medication Adherence for Patients with Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 18(5). doi:10.5812/ircmj.25183
Siersma, V., Kousgaard, M. B., Reventlow, S., Ertmann, R., Felding, P., & Waldorff, F. B. (2014). The effectiveness of computer reminders versus postal reminders for improving quality assessment for point-of-care testing in primary care: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 21(1), 13-20. doi:10.1111/jep.12210
Takizawa, H., Orita, K., Aoyagi, M., Ezaki, N., & Mizuno, S. (2017). A Spot Reminder System for the Visually Impaired Based on a Smartphone Camera. Sensors, 17(2), 291. doi:10.3390/s17020291
Written by Francis Wall, Last Revision April 2018