Search Results for: eric boyd

What We’re Reading

Ernesto is out for this round, so I’m filling in. I hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles, show&tells and visualizations!

“Standing Up for American Innovation and Your Privacy in the Digital Age” by Senator Ron Wyden. Access to your personal data is something that we care about and has been a topic of conversation at QS meetups and conferences. During Portland’s recent TechFestNW, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden took a strong stance on the nature of the relationship of the user and his/her data by criticizing the “Third-Party doctrine”.

Digital Health State of the Industry by MobileHealthNews.  In the hype-filled world of digital health, MobiHealthNews is one of the (few) sources we trust for business reports. Their latest quarterly roundup is very well done, as always.

Better Living Through Data by James Davenport. James has over four years of battery log data from three laptops. By looking at the data, he saw a view of his own computer usage as well as a glimpse of his laptop’s secret life in the middle of the night. If you want to keep logs of your laptop’s battery, you can use the same script.

Which_Cities_Get_the_Most_Sleep__-_WSJ_com 2Which_Cities_Get_the_Most_Sleep__-_WSJ_com

Which Cities get the most sleep? by Stuart A. Thompson. We showed a visualization last week that used UP user data. This visualization is from the same dataset, but I couldn’t pass up showing it because the sleep/step pattern contrast between New York and Orlando is so interesting.

From the Forum
OPI TrueSense for Sleep Tracking
Report App Question
What is your opinion on neurofeedback?

This Week on
Cors Brinkman: Lifelog as Self-Portrait
Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand
Kevin Krejci: An Update on Tracking Parkinson’s Disease
Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog
Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower

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!

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Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand

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.

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What is the Quantified Self Now?

At Quantified Self we’ve come to appreciate the interest in QS from scholars, researchers, and scientists. The essay below, which originally appeared on the Society Pages blog Cyborgology, was written by the thoughtful QS participant and scholar, Whitney Erin Boesel (we have collaboratively made minor edits for this posting). We learned quite a bit from it and are honored that Whitney allowed us to repost it here. Essays such as these help us think critically about QS and our growing community. We hope that posting it here will spur discussion and we invite you to add your voice in the comments or email us with essays of your own.

There's A LOT more to (self-)tracking than Quantified Self

There’s A LOT more to (self-)tracking than Quantified Self

When people ask me what it is that I’m studying for my PhD research, my answer usually begins with, “Have you ever heard of the group Quantified Self?” I ask this question because, if the person says yes, it’s a lot easier for me to explain my project (which is looking at different forms of mood tracking, primarily within the context of Quantified Self). But sometimes asking this return question makes my explanation more difficult, too, because a lot of people have heard the word “quantified” cozy up to the word “self” in ways that make them feel angry, uncomfortable, or threatened. They don’t at all like what those four syllables sometimes seem to represent, and with good reason: the idea of a “quantified self” can stir images of big data, data mining, surveillance, loss of privacy, loss of agency, mindless fetishization of technology, even utter dehumanization.

But this is not the Quantified Self that I have come to know. Continue reading

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Announcing New Talks for QS Europe Conference!

The QS Europe 2013 Conference in Amsterdam is one month away! Here are some more of the awesome talks and sessions that will be given by QS community members. Check them out below, and please remember to register soon if you’d like to come – there are only a few tickets left. Hope to see you there!

New Show&Tells
Using Data to Hack My Habits and Whip Up My Willpower (Mark Leavitt)
Tracking Puns (J. Paul Neeley)
Three Years of Tracking Sleep (Christel De Maeyer)
Daily Rhythm Tracking with Nike+ Fuelband (Eric Boyd)
Tracking Relationships (Fabio Ricardo dos Santos)

QS Privacy and Security (James Burke)
Activity Trackers (Michael Kazarnowicz)
QS and Longevity (Clement Charles)
From Quantified Self to Quantified Us/Communities: Our Future in Group Minds (Yuri van Geest)
QS Researchers and Scholars Gathering (Jakob Larsen, Dorien Zandbergen)

Ignite Talks
Insights from Tracking Walking Patterns (Per Sandholm)
Fun with Fitbit (Joost Plattel)
AchieveMint (Luca Foschini)
Momento (Oliver Waters)
Addressing Practical Needs of the Elderly (Homer Papadopoulos)

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Eric Boyd: Learning from my Nike FuelBand Data

We’ve been getting some great Quantified Self Show & Tell talks coming in as we get closer to our European conference. Now that there are so many self-tracking tools that can serve as tools for gaining insight into our actions and behaviors it’s important to understand what we can learn from the data we gather. One of the key questions Quantified Self participants have is whether the devices they use are accurate, what they are good for, what signals they display about our real activities.

Eric Boyd, who gave our keynote at the first QS conference in Palo Alto in 2011, is coming to Amsterdam in May, and he will give a show&tell talk about trying to understand his Nike Fuelband data. Eric has been involved with Quantified Self  as an avid self-tracker, maker of wearable technologies, and an organizer for the QS Toronto meetup group.

eric boydHe has been wearing the Nike+ FueBband for a few months and has started to examine what the data tells him about his daily rhythms. For instance, it can easily tell when he gets out of bed at night, as well as daily variations in his walking pace.

While many of us have found that the common activity trackers function as a kind of diary, with even the minimal traces of activity able to spur our memories about what we’ve been up to, sometimes they record data that is mysterious. For instance, the graph below show’s Eric’s highest activity day. “I do not know what I doing during the three hours when I clocked most of the steps, but it wasn’t walking,” he reports.

I think it will be fun, at the spring conference, to try and solve some of these mysteries of activity data together.


The Quantified Self European Conference will be held in Amsterdam on May 11th & 12th. Registration is now open. As with all our conferences our speakers are members of the community. If you’re attending the conference and want to present your self-tracking project please let us know.

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#QS2011 insights from Day 2

  • @ethomaz Day two of #QS2011 getting started.
  • @qDot It’s time for kurzweil supplement levels of coffee. #QS2011
  • @matttrent More @quantifiedself #qs2011 photos on flickr:
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 For a great blog on the Quantified Self 2011 conference here at the Computer History Museum – Ethan Zuckerman at
  • @beaugunderson There are 8 slide decks linked on the QS Wiki slides page: We can do better! #qs2011
  • @quantifiedself Dare to ask!
  • @Bytemarks Got a favorite QS gear. List or review it here:
  • @andrewhessel Eric Boyd — Hacker – made heart spark — pendant that flashes each time your heart beats #QS2011
  • @uxgreg Inventor of North Paw, a cyborg method of embedding a directional sense for where north is, is speaking at #QS2011! Very cool.
  • @PrjHealthDesign Eric Boyd asks “How many people are actually using existing sensors?” – more than half of the #qs2011 audience!
  • @quantifiedself The future of self tracking with Eric Boyd. Check out his great QS talks here:
  • @sgdean Eric Boyd highlights @Ideabling Amy Drill’s smart shorts from NY QS#QS2011 feedback on muscle contractions for athletes.
  • @sgdean Yes! @agaricus says next QS Conference we will do experiments on entrainment #QS2011
  • @quantifiedself Check out the eXciting $10M Tricorder XPrize sponsored by @Xprize and @Qualcomm
  • @annievaldes “DIY QS is redundant.” It shouldn’t have to be! Where is passive tracking and pattern spotting? QS could be more DVR, and less DOS. #qs2011
  • @HealthMatt#qs2011 Enjoying listening in on conversations this morning – so many interesting people and ideas. Randomly pick 10 people = great company.
  • @pattifbrennan SlideShare presentation #qs2011 Integrating QS data into clinical care : Quantified self no movie
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 people pay attention to different things – tension at family dinner – lead to blood sugar spiking 12 hrs
  • @YBRtweets Check out this SlideShare presentation : Cognition, Learning, and Self-Tracking – Qua…
  • @IStanb4u Heard at #qs2011 “no one has heard of us who isn’t one of us”
  • @florianbailey Networks at #qs2011
  • @uxgreg Loving how many Vibram Five Fingers I’m seeing at #qs2011!
  • @florianbailey 23andme session with Esther Dyson #qs2011
  • @agaricus Tracking media diet by @EthanZ: Kevin Kelly ask, is there an optimal media diet? #qs2011
  • @LisaBL Hearing about Bulletproof Coffee from @bulletproofexec at #qs2011
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 Open is a priority – so Sensor.Network allows people to upload to a sensor based network – and say what can be done with it after
  • @joshuakauffman “Everything in QS is a one-off; we need reusable parts.” says Dave Marvit. #qs2011
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 epiphanies from QS’ing – exposes truth to ourselves that we might not have realized till we QS’d
  • @JulieSammons The gadgetry at the Quantified Self Conference helped confirm that I am, in fact, alive. #QS2011#thanksquantifiedself
  • @BodyMedia Data behind the scenes #qs2011 with YogaYoga – How we can become even better in Yoga tracking through research
  • @tectonic “Quant Friendly Doctors” results in Quantified Doctors mailing list and on-going discussion about empowering patients. Interesting! #qs2011
  • @IStanb4u Apparently the color of hungry is a rust-brown #qs2011
  • @phenatypical “mine tracks my wife, in terms of her ovulation cycles. turns out i don’t have one – yes!!” -b. evans on tracking pers. data w/PACO #qs2011
  • @billschuller If active tracking changes behavior, how do you baseline? #qs2011
  • @SlimStranger Everyone is talking about need to aggregate data. They should get together! #qs2011
  • @PaulTarini Ian Eslick-how do we minimize the time to discovery? Library of experiments and experimental models. #qs2011
  • @phenatypical “I work in Silicon Valley; I had never worked with a group of women for 28 weeks. Very new & difficult!” -@meilinfung weight trackng #qs2011
  • @tectonic .@ieslick can we combine many N of 1 data points with questionable quality into a global metric that is statistically significant? #qs2011
  • @LisaBL “Social component to losing weight is essential” Lightning talk at #qs2011Weight loss and maintenance research via self-tracking (Fung)
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 in 2011 100k patients are self-tracking – it works to have long term follow up – and see patterns to get more impact
  • @pattifbrennan#qs2011 Edison Thomaz extracting meaningful health #odls from @jonfroehlich ‘s #Hydrosense – water use tells all!
  • @mrhungry Reverse engineering devices like pace makers so that patients can access their own data.
  • @beaugunderson The Quantified Coder: Most exciting project for me personally at#qs2011
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 Quantter – looking for 100 iphone beta testers –
  • @phenatypical “When you want to have it private, you pay. Trust us, we are Swiss.” -@harscoat #qs2011
  • @sbb Track brainstate vs writing good code and bad (buggy) code. And then brainstate when ppl use that code base.
  • @mrhungry Don’t say lets exercise more, say let’s move more = Not discrete, continuous. Treadmill desk = #qs2011
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 went to craigs list, bought a $100 treadmill and a $149 desk from IKEA and made my treadmill desk – in 2.5 years, walked 600 miles
  • @TechPolicy Here’s a PDF with info on @e_ramirez’s Active Desk if you want to build one too (or just learn about benefits) #qs2011
  • @mrhungry QS didnt choose speakers until they had a list of attendees to pick from.
  • @redindhi This is not a toilet, it’s a scale. #qs2011 @ Computer History Museum
  • @quantifiedself Adreno stress index test – get a baseline now. Recommended lab by Christine Peterson:
  • @ddaannddrree#qs2011#quantifiedself personal speech analytics talk is at
  • @SlimStranger dude wrote down every thought since 1983 then wrote search engine for his thoughts. #qs2011
  • @fredtrotter#qs2011 I am releasing my experiments and my gamification tools at under #openglaze project
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 backstrokes – takes your data and shows all the cities you have visited – a real life doppler
  • @bigs Foursquare friends model = bankrupt. Just grab my graph from elsewhere (twiter, fb, etc). I’m done accepting Foursquare friends. #qs2011
  • @edyson At #qs2011 What is the best visualization of your genome? Yourself
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 diff betw deep breathing vs heart math device? device tells when you are doing it, it turns green. no feedback with deep breathing
  • @maybanks ernesto: we need to make angry birds for behavior change. no matter how badly you do, you want to do it again. #qs2011#qs2011
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 almost like Chronic Fatigue – decided to quit coffee to help recover – made measured cup of coffee and reduce amount by 20 ml. Slow
  • @meilinfung#qs2011 Robin looked at his data, and saw that quitting coffee had not interfered with his recovery in his ability to concentrate
  • @florianbailey Tools for extreme quantifying #qs2011
  • @freshenx What was missing were people of color and environmental justice. Many ppl track their health b/c of enviro toxicity. #qs2011
  • @fahdoo Kevin Kelly giving the closing keynote at #QS2011 @ Computer History Museum
  • @sarahnovotny metadata – information about information is growing even faster than moore’s law – Kevin Kelly #QS2011
  • @andrewhessel Life streaming is what we’re doing now… #QS2011
  • @redindhi Embedded data in everything is creating the Internet of things — the database of things. KK #qs2011
  • @LisaBL “In order to be treated like an individual we must reveal ourselves” -Kevin Kelly @kevin2kelly #QS2011
  • @pmurgia#qs2011, Kevin Kelly, we are now extending ourselves making us more quantifiable, Quantifiable Self
  • @bigs Science is about how we know. Technology modifies how we know. -Kevin Kelly #qs2011
  • @sgdean Triple blind studies. You don’t even know you’re doing the experiment. Sounds like QS #QS2011
  • @pmurgia#qs2011, Kevin Kelly, personalized medicine clinical trial of 1. Participatory medicine, collaborative research…
  • @bigs As #qs2011 conf wraps, everyone mulling around, reminiscing, exhanging contact info. Feels like the end of summer camp.
  • @ericblue Need at least a week of reflection to soak up and process all the great info this weekend! #QS2011

Until #QS2012…

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Day 2: QS Guide, Conference Wiki, and Sensor Technology from Eric Boyd

Welcome to Day 2! Quick couple of notes to add from Day 1, then on to highlights from our keynote speaker, Eric Boyd.

A common problem for QS-ers is knowing which tools, products and methods to use in their self-tracking. Finding the answers would requires hours to months of online research and/or testing. Recognizing the need for good data on the review side, Quantified Self partnered with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Institute for the Future to create the Complete QS Guide to Self-Tracking.

The guide – now populated with over 400 tools – was announced during yesterday’s closing session. The guide will continue to grow with help from the review team and input from the community.  Do you have experience with a QS-relevant tool? Definitely check out the guide and add your thoughts!

A conference wiki has been set up by Beau Gunderson. All attendees can use it to record notes from their sessions


Gary kicked off Day 2 with a big thank you to QS Cofounder, Kevin Kelly, and Director, Alexandra Carmichael.

Kevin’s guiding question for Quantified Self for the last 3.5 years has been: What does it want to become? (big, scattered, concentrated,…?)

Whereas, Alex has asked: How can I help?

Their guidance and inspiration have resulted in a global, rapidly growing community of self-trackers, as well as this weekend’s conference. Thank you Kevin and Alex!

Starting today, Gary suggests we tax our brains and think about the following two questions:

What do you wonder? For example, does chicken soup work for colds? Add those questions to Dare to ask!

What tools do you use? Share with us on!

Now, for today’s keynote: Eric Boyd on New Sensors and the Frontiers of Self Tracking

Eric is a self-described hacker. He finds interesting technologies and does what he wants with them.

Sensors can change the way we look at ourselves and others. Take, for example, the Heart Spark – a heart-shaped circuitboard pendant, which receives feedback from a chest strap and blinks every time the wearer’s heart beats. What happens in an interaction when others see an external display of “you”? Or, the North Paw, a compass worn on the ankle that tells the user when they’re pointing north. It can change the wearer’s internal sense of direction.

Much is possible today with sensors because related technologies have been developed, such as low power wireless and high energy batteries. These things combine to allow for tic-tac sized, sticker-like, sensors, such as the ones we see from Green Goose, which are essentially accelerometers that can be used on anything from a pill bottle, to determine when medication was taken, to inhaler monitors, to measure how frequently asthmatics needed help breathing.

New Sensor Technology

EMG – electromyography (measurement of muscle activity). Sensors, like those used in Emotiv and Neurosky, detect when muscles are used (Neurosky also measures brain waves). These technologies are moving into clothing, helping to improve sports performance.

Galvanic Skin Response – measures sweat or skin resistance (how much electricity flows across the gap in skin). Measures exertion, but can also be a metric for excitement, nervousness, and arousal. It can be a mood thing.

Glucometer – tests blood sugar levels. Current models are too costly for too little data. Continuous monitors are better. The ultimate would be microneedles, which are minimally invasive and can be extremely small (again, tic-tac sized), applied to a fingertip like a sticker.

Cameras – Is a picture also worth 1,000 data points? Cameras are being used to capture live data points, like when you hit a deer or when you propose to your significant other (one guy snapped a live action shot after proposing and uploaded her reaction to the web). Mealsnap, a mobile app, analyzes photos of your meals but has humans on the backend analyzing the data.

Microphones – With a $2 microphone and analysis software, one man measured his sleeping patters and even heartrate after slipping a mic into his airbed and filtering through the data.

Quantified World – automobile, electricity, gas/pollution. Sensors that tell electricity usage, force of impact, substances in the air, both outside and inside.

Tricorder X Prize – New prize offered for the ultimate all-in-one self tracking device. Not likely that it will be a mobile (cell-phone like device); needs to be worn.

In closing, in the Quantified World, there is a lot of opportunity. Get out there and experiment! It’s worth emphasizing that Quantified Self is “DIY.” You‘ve got to do it.

Additions by Gary: Re: the Heart Spark and external displays of emotion – is it possible to synchronize feedback loops (“entrainment”)? Might there be entrainment for heartrate?

Recent article in Pediatrics, looking at TV, families and language acquisition, shows that kids learn language by their parents reacting to what they say. When the TV is on, parents don’t react. We can quantify what TV does to language.

Thomaz gave a great talk about sensing water pressure yesterday. A simple meter on a faucet can identify everything that happens in the system, whether you ate out that night or stayed home and did the dishes.

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Announcing: New Sensors and the Frontiers of Self Tracking

With the first QS conference 32 days away, we’re excited to announce that Eric Boyd will give a keynote on “New Sensors and the Frontiers of Self Tracking.”

Eric is an inspiring hacker who constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible using the latest sensors and tools. A long time member of the Bay Area Quantified Self Show&Tell, he now helps power the Toronto group.

He is an expert in wearable sensory augmentation. Boyd’s “North Paw” project showed us how tracking and feedback can affect our sense of direction. His HeartSpark project exposes the intimacy of heart beat to public view.

In this talk, Boyd is going to give us a tour of the new sensors emerging today that make possible entirely new types of self tracking. We know about accelerometers, gyroscopes, and compasses. Boyd will talk about what’s coming next, and what new forms of self-awareness they may facilitate.

Thanks Eric, see you at the conference!

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Meet the Heart Rate Pendant

Eric Boyd, a long-time QS member and now part of the Toronto QS Show&Tell meetup group, has a new project. It’s called HeartSpark, and it’s a heart-shaped pendant which flashes little LED lights in time with your heart beat. HeartSpark and Eric (video below) were featured on Engadget today – congrats!

Thanks to @faisal_q for posting the link.

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Latest Happenings in the QS World

A few exciting things have happened in the past week that I wanted to highlight.

Two New Groups
There are now 10 global Quantified Self Show&Tell Meetup groups, with the newest ones in:
- San Diego, organized by Ernesto Ramirez, John Amschler, Cece O’Connor, and Gregg Masters, and
- Toronto, organized by Carlos Rizo and our own Eric Boyd. I’ll be in Toronto for their first meetup on October 27 – hope to see some of you there!
New Video Introduction
Kees Plattel, of the Quantified Self Amsterdam group, has generously put together an amazing 12-second animated QS logo to use at the beginning of all of our videos. Here it is – thank you, Kees!

Quantified Self – Title from Kees Plattel on Vimeo.

If you missed the action on Monday, the first European QS Show&Tell meetup happened in Amsterdam. Check out the Twitter stream #qsams.

We want to hear about QS-related happenings! If you have any news to share, let me know.

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