In 2013 Eric Boyd started using a Nike FuelBand to track his activity. Not satisfied with the built in reporting the mobile and web applications were delivering he decided to dive into the data by accessing the Nike developer API. By being able to access the minute-level daily data Eric was able to make sense of his daily patterns, explore abnormalities in his data, and learn a bit more about how the FuelBand calculated it’s core metrics. Watch Eric’s talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference to hear more about Eric’s experience.
Cors Brinkman is a media artist and student. In June of 2013, he started a project to keep track of himself. He decided to start with LifeSlice, a tool to have your computer keep track of your behavior by taking a picture, screenshot, and location data every hour. After experimenting with that system Cors added in mood tracking to round out his data collection. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Cors describes his process and some of the interesting ways he visualized and analyzed his thousands of self-portraits.
All over the world, people like you are getting together and talking about what they are learning from their personal data. This upcoming week, there are three such events. To go see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own!
Tuesday (August 19)
QSXX Boston, Massachusetts
Another event from our great QS women’s group in Boston.
Wednesday (August 20)
Check out a wonderful group of trackers in the North Texas area.
Thursday (August 21)
This is a working meeting for people to make progress on their self-tracking projects amongst peers.
It’s a long one today, so buckle in and get ready for some great stuff!
The Quantified Self: Bringing Science into Everyday Life, One Measurement at a Time by Jessica Wilson. This piece, from the Science in Society Office at Northwestern University, explores the Quantified Self movement, with a particular focus on the local Chicago QS meetup. Always interesting to see how individuals draw distinctions between self-tracking projects and “real science.”
Diversity of Various Tech Companies By the Numbers by Nick Heer. Recently Apple released data about the diversity of their employee workforce. This marked the last major tech company to publish data about diversity. In this short post Nick takes that data and shows how it compares to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interested in more than just the big six listed here? Check out this great site for more tech company diversity data (Hat tip to Mark Allen for finding that link!)
Intel Explores Wearables for Parkinson’s Research by Christina Farr, Reuters. Intel is in the news lately based on their interest in developing and using their technological prowess for qs-related activities. In this post/press release, they describe how they’re partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to explore how they can use wearable devices to track and better understand patients with Parkinson’s Disease. It appears they’re also working to get their headphone heart rate tracking technology out to market.
Spying on Myself by Richard J. Anderson. I’m always interested in how people talk to themselves about self-tracking. This short essay describes the tools that Richard uses and why he continues or discontinues using them. His follow up is also a must read.
Dexcom Mac Dance by Kerri Sparling. You know we’re fascinated by the techniques and tools developed and refined by the the diabetes community. In this short post, Kerri highlights the work of Brian Bosh, who developed a Chrome extension to access and download data from Dexcom continuous glucose monitors on a Mac. (Bonus link: Listen to Chris Snider’s great podcast episode where he talks to John Costik, one of the originators of the CGM in the Cloud/Nightscout project.)
The Three-Year Long Time Tracking Experiment by Lighton Phiri. Lighton is a graduate student at the University of Capetown. In 2011 he became curious about how he was spending his time. After installing a time-tracking tool on his various computers, he started gathering data. Recently, after 3 years of tracking, he downloaded and analyzed his data. Read this excellent post to find out what he learned.
Experimenting with Sleep by Gwern. One of our favorite self-experimenters is back with some more detailed analysis of his various sleep tracking experiments. Read on to see what he learned about how caffeine pills, alcohol, bedtime, and wake uptime affects his sleep.
QS Bits and Bobs by Adam Johnson. Adam gave talk at a recent QS Oxford Meetup about his lifelogging and self-tracking, his custom tools for importing data to his calendar, and what he’s learned from his experiences. Make sure to also check out the neat tool he’s developed to log events to Google Calendar.
FuelBand Fibers by Variable. A design team was given Nike FuelBand data from seven different runners and created this interesting visualization of their daily activity.
I don’t Sleep That Well: A Year of Logging When I Sleep and When I’m at Work by Reddit user mvuljlst. Posting on the r/dataisbeautiful subreddit, this user tracked a year of their sleep and location data using Sleepbot and Moves. If you have similar data and are interested in exploring your own visualization the code is also available.
In the City that We Love by Brian Wilt/Jawbone. The data science team at Jawbone continues to impress with their production of meaningful and interesting data visualizations based on data from UP users. In this post and corresponding visualizations they explore the daily patterns of people from around the world. Make sure to read the technical notes!
Want to receive the weekly What We Are Reading posts in your inbox? We’ve set up a simple newsletter just for you. Click here to subscribe. Do you have a self-tracking story, visualization, or interesting link you want to share? Submit it now!
Philip Thomas is a software engineer at OpenDNS. He’s been collecting a lot of personal data since college, first starting with his custom built beer tracking system. He then moved on to slightly more sophisticated personal data. As the data started to pile up in services and systems he started to explore what it would take to create his own custom personal dashboard. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Philip explains how he built his dashboard and why it’s so valuable to him as he tracks his life.
Natalie Melchiorre wanted to work on her upper body strength so she decided to start a 100-pushup challenge. Using a popular iOS app she followed a plan and tracked her progress as she increased her strength. Along the way she encountered some hurdles, but continued on. In this talk, presented at the Phoenix Quantified Self meetup group, Natalie describes her experience with setting this ambitious goal and what she ultimately learned when she failed to complete it. Make sure to stick around to hear Natalie talk about the intersection of goals, performance, and identity.
Amaan Penang was faced with a life change when he moved from Texas to California to start a new job. While preparing for the move he started to examine his financial health and was surprised by what he didn’t understand about his spending and income. Using the popular financial tracking software, Mint, he started to examine his historical spending. In this talk, presented at the Silicon Valley Quantified Self meetup group, Amaaan explains how he tracks his data, crunches the numbers, and finds “interesting patterns” in his data.
Today’s Tidings dispatch comes to us from Phil Goebel, organizer of the QS Melbourne meetup group. Recently, they held their sixth Show&Tell meetup, which focussed on discussing new self-tracking tools. They also announced a new project – The QS Device Library. Read below to learn more about this exciting idea and what transpired at the meetup.
QS Melbourne Show&Tell #6 Recap
by Phil Goebel
Greetings from down under! The Quantified Self community in Melbourne has been active since late 2012 and since then the community has shown enthusiasm for the potential impact that self-tracking technology can have. Earlier this month the Melbourne QS meetup hosted our first set of toolmakers – individuals who are involved in building self-tracking tools. Melbourne has a rich medical and health technology industry and the QS community here is developing into a key contributor to opening the dialogue about the role that self-tracking behaviour, the technology which facilitates it, and the data it generates has within a larger health informatics context.
Our first speaker was Rob Crowder from Smash Wearables. Rob shared his journey from a desire to improve his tennis game to launching a kickstarter campaign. Smash is a wrist worn device packing accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and microcontroller all into a small and aesthetically pleasing form factor. Rob comes from a physics background and the Smash project begun with strapping hacked together hardware onto his wrist and collecting and analysing a whole heap of data. Although Rob has always been and continues to be the driving force behind Smash he stressed the importance of the community which has grown around and is contributing to Smash and has been taken aback by the willingness and generosity of people to lend a hand. Even though Smash did not meet its Kickstarter goals, the Kickstarter campaign did accomplish other objectives which will hopefully lead to Smash being worn by some of Australia’s top tennis player in time for the next Melbourne Open.
Kayla Heffernan a Masters of Information Systems student at Melbourne University discussed and presented her experiences in designing a self-tracking mobile application which delivers complex messaging. The app is currently being used in a randomized controlled trial to better understand the effectiveness of encouraging health behaviours through mobile applications. The objective of the mobile application is to track sun exposure – this is a complex task as too little can mean vitamin D deficiency, too much can put an individual at risk of sun burns and skin cancer, plus factors such as what the app user is wearing needs to be taken into account. Kayla discussed user design techniques such as saving default settings and adding gamification elements to encourage user engagement and to deliver a complex message. It may be a while before the app is available to the broader public, but the results of the RCT will be interesting to follow.
QS Melbourne Announces the Quantified Self Device Library
In addition to the great discussion about the challenges and rewards of building software and hardware for self-tracking, QS Melbourne announced the development of a QS device library. As a result from a research project that happened at the Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre (HaBIC) at the University of Melbourne, there are about 40 self-tracking devices sitting on a shelf gathering dust. In an effort to put these devices to good use HaBIC is working with the QS Melbourne organisers to build a library where devices can be signed out for 1-3 month periods to encourage n=1 activity in the QS community. While still in the logistical planning phases this is a great opportunity to engage the community in QS ideas and concepts and end up with some great show&tell presentations that combine data sources in creative ways. Discussion about how the logistical issues will be handled is ongoing on the Melbourne QS meetup discussion board along with a list of the available devices. Thoughts about how best to setup this library would be appreciated.
We’re always interested in the way individuals with chronic conditions use self-tracking to better understand themselves. A great example of this is our good friend, Sara Riggare. Sara has Parkinson’s Disease and we’ve featured some of her amazing self-tracking work here before. At the 2014 Quantified Self Conference, Sara gave a short talk on what she feels is her most troublesome symptom: freezing of gait. In this talk, she explains why it’s such a big part of her daily life and how she’s using new tools and techniques to track and improve her gait.
There is one QS Meetup this week. Check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar to find the next upcoming meet up near you. If you don’t see one near you, start your own!
Tuesday (August 12)
East Lansing, Michigan
Should be a great discussion in Michigan. If you are in the area, you should check it out!