Numbers From Around the Web: Round 5

Today’s NFATW post comes from Martin Sona, a QS friend and organizer for the QS Aachen/Maastricht meetup group, who pointed out this fascinating project on the QS Facebook group.

Dale Lane is a software developer for IBM living and working in Hampshire and he has been developing neat personal tools for his self tracking for the last few years. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Tracking TV Watching

Inspired by the background data collection offered by last.fm designed to capture music listening habits Dale set out to create his own “scrobbler” to better understand his TV viewing habits. What he came up with is amazing:

Using a bit of code running on his media PC he is able to track a number of variables including time of day, what program he’s watching, his most watched channels, and many many more. Take a bit of time to check out his comprehensive blog post about the project and the TV Scrobbling project page.

Smile!

Not satisfied while merely understanding what he was watching on TV, Dale took it upon himself to better understand how we was reacting to what he was watching. Using a webcam and a bit more code he was able to piece together a program that snaps a picture and then uses the Face.com API to determine interesting characteristics about the picture. The Face.com API enables him to see if he’s smiling as well as estimating his mood based on the facial characteristics that show up in the webcam shot. This little program has enabled him to find out some really interesting things such as:

He was also able to track his estimated emotional state while gaming and found some interesting insights:

This shows my facial expressions while playing Modern Warfare 3 last night. Mostly “sad”, as I kept getting shot in the head. With occasional moments where something made me smile or laugh, presumably when something went well.

These are really interesting and unique methods for understanding ourselves and our behavior. Dale’s work on self-tracking is fascinating and is an inspiration to those of us looking to expand our understanding of ourselves and how we interact and react with the digital world. Be sure to check out his blog for more self-tracking projects and interesting tools!

Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.

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3 Responses to Numbers From Around the Web: Round 5

  1. This would be great as a background app on any webcam-enabled computer, so you could see how your emotional state changed as you worked. Even better connected with RescueTime to see which apps and websites effect you! Fun times.

  2. Gary Wolf says:

    Smile tracking is really getting a lot of discussion in various QS meetings right now. Here in the Bay Area we just say a great talk by Stan James about taking a picture of his facial expression once every hour in front of his computer, with a bit of code that also took a screen grab of what was on his computer at the time. We’ll get this up on the web soon, but it was a fascinating kind of diary. Stan mentioned in his talk that looks of intense concentration are often interpreted as “sad” by current face recognition software, so this is a warning about current reliability…

  3. Pingback: Tracking TV Watching : Seminare: »Big Data Stories«

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