ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 15, 2016) -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, as part of its work life balance initiative, recently implemented a wellness program intended to promote healthier lifestyles of its employees. ARL's wellness coordinators continue to seek people within the workforce who have experience or expertise that might benefit the rest of the workforce in areas like meditation or mindfulness; diet and nutrition; or athletic performance.

Jonroy Canady, a computer engineer from ARL's Human Research and Engineering Directorate, volunteered his talents to develop a smartphone application to support the organization's wellness program. Currently, participants of the program log their progress onto an excel spreadsheet. The app, which is currently a prototype, or proof of principal, could be used to track the health and wellness of the employees electronically and eliminate the need for the spreadsheet tracking system.

Canady is not new to app development. He said he has developed several apps for a few different ARL research projects he has worked on. He began his career at ARL as a contractor in 2011, providing on-site support to HRED's then-translational neuroscience branch and transitioned to civilian service two years ago.

Canady said he currently supports a couple different research programs and mostly implements the hardware and/or software for a given experimental paradigm. He first heard about the wellness program in December, and because of his past experiences developing apps, his supervisor came to him and identified developing the app as a useful "service to the organization."

Canady said he was eager to dust off his Android development skills.

"The long-term vision would be to have a suite of apps on multiple platforms that allow the entire ARL workforce to easily integrate the wellness initiative into their lives. However, the next step would probably be just to acquire the necessary approval/funding to enable the development of a functional single-platform wellness app. Various features and platforms could be added as future steps," Canady said.

He believes the benefits a wellness app could provide to the workforce are manifold.

"I believe the app would make it far easier and more convenient for many employees to track and report their wellness activities. And, in turn, this would increase participation in the program, increasing wellness across the workforce," Canady said.

Canady said other benefits include the automation of wellness tracking and reporting would reduce the amount of program-administration effort required and the automatic data basing of employee wellness would allow for the easy extraction of metrics to gauge program success. He said the database could even be mined for research.

"I was pleased to see Jonroy took the initiative and saw a way he could utilize his capabilities to design a smartphone application that will help the wellness program. I believe that when the app is approved and implemented it will become a great asset to the program," said Danell Diggs, ARL's wellness coordinator.

Canady said that when he is not at work supporting research to help the Soldier, he enjoys consuming various media (books, games, movies, etc.), singing in choirs, playing piano, and preparing for the birth of his firstborn child.

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The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.