QS Symposium on Pain and Innovation Challenge

Do you have a Quantified Self idea that can help ease the burden of pain?

On November 5th, 2015, we’re convening the first QS Symposium on Pain and Innovation Challenge on the campus of Singularity University at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. For this meeting, we’re trying  a new kind of innovation challenge, designed to advance your ideas for helping people who are dealing with acute and chronic pain. If you have an idea that can help people in pain, please join us for an intense and inspiring one day workshop with some of the world’s leading experts to advance your idea and connect with collaborators who can support its development, from prototyping to reaching the market.

At the end of the day, we’ll award a $10,000 cash prize to the idea that has most challenged and inspired us to look beyond what is already known about reducing the burden of pain.

We’re looking for ideas based on deep insight into the practical challenges faced by people dealing with acute and/or chronic pain, with a particular focus on tools that enhance self-awareness, self-efficacy, and empower people of all types to better understand themselves and live joyful lives. We welcome participation from all innovators interested in sensing, devices, apps, services, and social innovations.

This is a unique challenge, designed to unfold from start to finish over the course of a single day. Instead of competition, co-operation. Instead of obscure judgments made behind closed doors, an open conversation about what we are learning. Instead of long lead times and uncompensated design work, a short, intense, inspiring immersion among the makers of the most innovative tools of tracking and learning emerging from the Quantified Self movement today.

We are toolmakers, pain sufferers and clinical experts, united by a common intention to make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from pain every day.

Request an invitation by emailing labs@quantifiedself.com

Include some details about your idea and reference links, and we will follow up with you.

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What We Are Reading



A man who tracked five years of sneezes might have a fix for your pollen allergy by Akshat Rathi. Thomas Blomseth Christiansen has spoken about tracking his sneezes at QS conferences. This article is a good telling of Thomas’s story.

Good tool with too small market can get a second chance – a hardware hack saves Zeo by Portabla Media. A short article on how Philipp Kalwies responded to the demise of Zeo. Since the sensors in the headband need to be replaced every three months and official supplies were dwindling on the secondary market, Philipp began to make his own and hopes to have this resource available to the small group of users who continue to get value from their Zeo devices.

The Right to Repair Ourselves by Kim Bellard. A common question in the QS community is “who owns your data?” Another question that should be given more time and is explored here, is “who owns the knowledge of how to ‘fix’ yourself?”


The Habits of Tracking My Diet and Exercise Data by Shannon Connors. Shannon has some of the most impressive personal data sets that I have ever seen. In this post, she gives an overview of the tools that she uses, what about the data she finds useful, and how she integrates the data collection into her day.

What you can learn from 2 years of Coach.me habit tracking + Machine Learning by Bryan Dickens. Applying association analysis to his coach.me data, Bryan was able to see which of his habits tended to occur together. There are some intriguing insights in here.

Visualizing Data in My Sleep with Tableau by Robert Rouse. Robert shows how his sleep patterns changed after the birth of his child.

From the Forum
What Keeps You Tracking?
My Phone and Me
Zeo iOs / Android application

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QS Access: See Your HealthKit Data in a Table


A year ago we released QS Access, a simple app that allows you to see your healthkit data in a table. Our idea was to make it easier for people to explore their data using familiar tools, such as Numbers, Excel, or any  spreadsheet program that can open a .csv file. We’ve really enjoyed hearing its been useful, and we’ve received lots of good feedback. This week we released a new version of the QS Access App that contains some commonly requested features. You can now:

  • QS-Access-ScreenSee raw data from individual elements, such as running.
  • Store the query details, so you don’t start from scratch each time.
  • Choose units for many quantities.
  • Get a table of your sleep data.

We’re still listening, so if you are using QS Access and have feedback for us please let us know by emailing qsaccess@quantifiedself.com.

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Meetups This Week

Six QS meetups are occurring this week. London will mark an incredible five years of meetups! Congratulations to Adriana Lukas and her team. St. Louis will have a special data hack session, focusing on getting the raw data from their devices. Jamie Williams will show the iPython scripts that he uses for pulling data from various API’s. In Boston, the theme of the night will be recovery.

The biggest meetup this week will be the Quantified Self Europe Conference occurring on Friday and Saturday in Amsterdam. We just put the finishing touches on the program, and I’m incredibly excited about it. This one is going to be special.

Monday, September 14
London, England

Tuesday, September 15
St. Louis, Missouri
QSXX – Boston, Massachusetts

Thursday, September 17
Auckland, New Zealand

Friday and Saturday, September 18-19
QSEU15 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Saturday, September 19
Denton, Texas

Meetups Last Week
Last week, Lille had their fourth meetup, with an ever-growing community in the north of France. If you organize a QS meetup, please post pictures of your event to the Meetup website. We love seeing them.

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What We Are Reading

On with the links!


Get your electronic health record: It’s your right by Lisa Zamosky. Make sure to know your rights when you ask for your medical records. A good overview of the regulations and some good links to have in your arsenal.

Open Data Rockstar: Jennifer Pahlka by Maria Renninger. We’re big fans of what Code for America is doing to make open data useful for people in communities around the United States. Great to hear a bit from Executive Director.

Awash in Data, Thirsting for Truth by Margaret Sullivan. The public editor for the New York Times goes deep on how data can be used, and sometimes abused, in the new era of data-driven journalism.

Meet the Hackers Who Are Decrypting Your Brainwaves by Sean Captain. I’m fascinated by the growing presence of brain tracking devices out there. Great to see some grassroots groups looking to make sense of all that data.

When Discrimination Is Baked Into Algorithms by Lauren Kirchner. The code that governs our machines are written by people. Fallible people who have their own opinions and biases. Who make mistakes. But what kind of legal protections are needed when discrimination is the result of the computers that run that code?

589aef6f-86b9-4a43-8919-551427cbaa7a-620x313 Why your bathroom scales are lying to you and how to find your true weight by Martin Robbins. Brilliant and fascinating post by Martin Robbins, who weighed himself every hour over a three-day period.

Soylent: What Happened When I Went 30 Days Without Food by Josh Helton. Say what you will about the techno-utopian food replacement product, but this is a great write-up on a month-long experiment to live off the stuff even while running nearly 70 miles per week. (Don’t forget to check out the data!)


open_jamierubin_net_v8_heatmap_html A Heatmap of Over 900 Days of Writing Data from My Google Docs Writing Tracker by Jamie Todd Rubin. Jamie shows us the data from the last two and a half years of tracking his writing.

From the Forum
Can You Quantify Inner Peace?
Psych Graduate Student Interested in QS Research

This Week on QuantifiedSelf.com
Announcing the 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference Program
Track HRV, Make a Dashboard, and Have Fun with Fitbit at QSEU15

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Track HRV, Make a Dashboard, and Have Fun with Fitbit at QSEU15


We just published a preview of our program for the upcoming 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference. This year we’re experimenting with some new “how-to” sessions to help everybody learn something new and apply right away in their self-tracking practice.

We’re thrilled to have ten how-to  sessions on the program. From spaced repetition, to heart rate variability, and tracking sneezing (really!), these sessions also give you a chance to learn directly from some of the most pioneering and experienced participants in the global Quantified Self community. You can see the full schedule in our just-posted preliminary program.

Tickets are almost sold out, so if you want to come this is the last week to register!

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Announcing the 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference Program


Eleven days and counting!

On September 18th and 19th the Quantified Europe conference returns to the beautiful and affordable Casa 400 hotel in Amsterdam. If you’ve been before you know how special this conference is. The dozens of high-handled guest bikes waiting just outside the hotel door suggest it’s going to be hard to stay inside, but we have a lot of experience programming both “with” and “against” the lure of the city and we expect that nobody will be riding away until the last session ends. With over 70 different talks and sessions scheduled between social breaks with excellent food, our “carefully curated unconference” is the fruition of nearly a year’s work getting to know what’s going on the QS community. We’ve been deeply inspired by what you’re thinking about. It’s time for everybody to get in on what we’ve been learning.

Especially notable themes this year include novel ways of measuring sleep; widening interest in blood glucose sensors; popularization of genome and microbiome tests, and, as always, an amazing range of handcrafted and deeply personal tracking stories about health, sports, emotion, and more.

You can read a preliminary program here. [PDF]

As you’ll see, we’re opening the conference with 10 special “how to” sessions covering topics from heart rate variability to accelerated learning. Our goal with these sessions is to give everybody a chance to learn practical tips from experienced trackers. The heart of the program will be our Quantified Self Show&Tell talks, first person stories on topics like home EEG measurements to improve reading skill, self-collected data on distracted driving, and measuring the effect of music on concentration.

Lively informal breakouts will help set the agenda for the Quantified Self movement in the coming year, and we’ll be joined by dozens of Quantified Self toolmakers bringing their ideas and demos, with special thanks owed to the generous sponsors and Friends of QS who make this meeting possible, including Bayer, Abbott Labs, Intel, Scanadu, Oura, Emfit, and Beddit.

Tickets are almost sold out so register today.

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Meetups This Week

A great group of QS meetups are occurring this week. At the QSXX meetup in San Francisco, they will have a talk on tracking a hormone-related chronic illness. In Lille, the session will start with device demos, including O.Zen, a heart-rate variability game. Olivier Janin will give a talk reflecting on what he’s learned from 8 years of working with wearables.

To 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! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

Monday, September 7
Oxford, England
Manchester, England

Tuesday, September 8
Lansing, Michigan
Zürich, Switzerland

Wednesday, September 9
QSXX – San Francisco, CA

Thursday, September 10
Lille, France

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What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

Doctors voice concerns over plan for greater patient access to medical records by Dennis Campbell. England’s National Health Service is planning giving patients access to medical records by 2018. Additionally, they’re creating means to for patients to read and add to their doctor’s notes. Of course, some physicians are saying this might not be the best idea.

Counting the Miles: Thomas Jefferson’s Quest for an Odometer by Jennifer Harbster. Thomas Jefferson was well known for his interest in measuring and keeping track of important information. This fun article details his near obsession with being able to track how far his carriages traveled.

Helping Teachers and Schools Run Experiments by Tom Vander Ark.

Teachers are scientists, they’ve always experimented. Most of the time it’s informal, “Let’s try a new behavior management routine.” Or, “Watch this video tonight and we’ll discuss it in the morning.” Or, “Let’s try a really hard problem.”

What if we gave teachers, and whole schools, the chance to run experiments of their own or to join larger trials? What if they had access to better measures and powerful analytics?

Transform Your Eating: A Start-to-Finish Guide to Tracking Your Food by Stephanie Lee. Great overview by Stephanie here, who has covered some QS topics in the past, on how to get started with tracking your food. Lots of good tips in this article.

iMore survey shows ultra-high levels of Apple Watch usage by Rene Ritchie. iMore collected survey responses from over 8,000 Apple Watch users and compiled the results. Some interesting stats in here! For instance, according to their data over 70% of the sample stood up after receiving a “stand up” alert.

tumblr_inline_nu0byhQvc61szhymg_1280 Quantifying & Hacking Focus – 2 Months In by Justin Lawler. Justin has been exploring how to better understand focus and concentration for the last few months. In this update, he talks about his Quantified Mind data and what he’s learned so far. (Note: Justin will be giving a show&tell talk at our QS Europe Conference on September 18th and 19th. Tickets are still available. Register today!)

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 10.58.01 AM My Working Pulse by Victor Pascual Cid. Victor used a simple open source keylogger to track how he was using his computer.


Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 11.01.08 AM The Data of Long Distance Lovers. A fantastic analysis of text messaging data between to individuals.

This Week on QuantifiedSelf.com
QSEU15 Preview: Putting Physiological Signals into Pictures
QSEU15 Preview: Why Should I Share My Data?
QS Europe Preview: Using Genetic Data for Recovery from Injury
QS Europe Preview: Where does your time go?

And now for a bit of fun:
Consider filling out this fun survey from the Internet’s favorite geek comic artist - The XKCD Survey!

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QS Europe Preview: Where does your time go?


Time is the finite resource that we all share. We share, too, the befuddlement in how it’s spent. It seems that we are equally terrible at remembering what happened in the past and estimating how long something will take in the future.

EmmanuelPontHaving worked in project management for years, Emmanuel Pont knows full well everything hinges on time: how you use it, where it goes, why you never have enough. Emmanuel will be contributing two sessions at QS Europe related to the topic. He will facilitate a breakout discussion exploring productivity. What does it mean to be productive? How do you know if you are being productive? Emmanuel will also give a 5 minute ignite talk on his tool that helped him get a comprehensive sense of how his time was spent: from the websites he visited, to the rooms that he spent time in.

We program our QS conferences to support the exchange of ideas, and we’re always inspired by what we learn. Our next one is coming soon. QS Europe, September 18th and 19th in Amsterdam. We’ll see you there.

Register for QS Europe

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