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Stand up. Sit down. Walk. Run. Sleep. We engage in these activities everyday (well, maybe not running), but how much do we know about ourselves and our bodies while we’re in the midst of them? Are you standing up straight? Are you slouching at your desk while you read this sentence? In this Toolmaker Talk we’re going to hear from Charles Wang, one of the founders of LUMOback – a posture sensor and mobile application designed to support back health and improve body awareness.
Watch (or listen to) our conversation with Charles below then make sure to read our short interview to learn more about the story behind LUMOback.
Q: How do you describe Lumoback? What is it?
LUMOback is a posture and movement sensor that you wear around your waist. It gives you real time feedback in the form of a vibration when you are slouching, both when you are standing and sitting. It also connects wirelessly to a mobile application, where it tracks whether you have been straight or slouching, in addition to sitting, standing, walking, running, and sleep positions.
One key feature of our mobile application is LUMO, the real time avatar. LUMO mimics what you are doing in real time, and gives you real time visual feedback so that you can understand and be aware of what position your body is in.
Q: What’s the backstory? What led to it?
Andrew Chang, Monisha Perkash, and myself were funded by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors to find a big problem to solve, and build a growth business around it. We didn’t have to look very far to find the right opportunity.
Andrew, one of the cofounders, has had chronic lower back pain for the past 11 years, and nothing really seemed to help him. He went to physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and tried acupuncture and other minor procedures. It wasn’t until he learned about postural correction by taking a set of posture classes where he started to understand how critical posture was in alleviating his back pain. In fact, once he began paying attention to his posture, his back pain significantly improved.
We as humans were designed through evolution to move, but now we spend most of our time sitting, and in most cases, sitting poorly. This means that improving posture and encouraging more activity can have significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Studies show that back health and posture are correlated, as is posture and confidence / attractiveness. It’s no wonder that physical therapists, chiropractors, and spine physicians stress the importance of posture.
The challenge of improving posture is twofold: 1) Most people have very little body awareness, let alone understanding their sitting and standing postures, and 2) Most people don’t have the resources or the time to take posture classes. This is where we realized that we could use technology to solve this problem, so we started prototyping and iterating, and this is what led us to create LUMOback.
Q: What impact has it had? What have you heard from users?
Users tell us that LUMOback has changed their lives, and either that their back pain has gone away through using the product or has significantly been reduced. People also frequently tell us that they are now very aware of their slouchy posture, which leads to posture correction, and again, awareness is the key element involved in making postural changes.
Q: What makes it different, sets it apart?
In addition to telling people whether their posture is straight or slouched, we can tell them whether they are sitting, standing, walking, running, and their sleep positions. The ability to differentiate between sitting and other activities is a clear differentiator for what we do.
Q: What are you doing next? How do you see Lumoback evolving?
We are constantly making improvements to LUMOback, from the application experience to the accuracy of our ability to detect different biomechanical states. We pride ourselves on being open to feedback and are constantly trying to improve and iterate on our product based on what our users tell us. This is the most exciting part — truly solving problems and needs that people have.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
We really are at a point in time now where mobile technologies will help us to solve challenging health problems in ways we couldn’t have imagined even several years ago. This is what gets the LUMO team super excited!
This is the 19th post in the “Toolmaker Talks” series. The QS blog features intrepid self-quantifiers and their stories: what did they do? how did they do it? and what have they learned? In Toolmaker Talks we hear from QS enablers, those observing this QS activity and developing self-quantifying tools: what needs have they observed? what tools have they developed in response? and what have they learned from users’ experiences? If you are a toolmaker and want to participate in this series please contact Ernesto Ramirez.
How do we spend our time?
Jared Chung was curious about how he was spending his days after he transitioned from his role as a consultant into his new startup venture. Inspired by pervious Quantified Self talks he decided to start tracking his time and his daily activities (work, exercise, sleep, etc.) using Google Calendar. This ongoing tracking project has helped him identify how he spends his day and how that compares to his planned activities. Watch this great talk filmed at the QS Boston Meetup to learn more about what Jared learned and how you can get started tracking your time
If you’re a loyal, or even infrequent user of the Zeo sleep tracking device then you’ve probably heard the sad news that the company has shut down. This opens up a lot of questions about what is means to make consumer devices in this day and age, but rather than focus on those issues we’ld like to talk a bit about data.
Zeo has been unfortunately a little quiet on the communication front and there are quite a few users out there who are wondering about what will happen to all those restless nights and sound sleeps that were captured by their device. This has been compounded by the fact that the Zeo website went down for a short time (it is up as of this writing) closing off access to user accounts and the data therein. Lucky for you there have been quite a few enterprising and enthusiastic individuals who have taken the time to create or highlight ways to capture and store your Zeo data.
Use The Zeo Website
You can’t fault Zeo with making it hard to access your own data. As long as their website is up you can easily download your sleep data from by logging into your user account at mysleep.myzeo.com. After logging into your account you will see a link on the right hand side labeled “Export Data.” Click that link and you’ll be able to download a CSV file containing all your sleep data. They’ve even provided a description of the data and formats that you can download here.
Eric Blue’s FreeMyZeo Data Exporter
QS Los Angeles Meetup Organizer and hacker extraordinaire whipped up a simple data export tool using the Zeo API. The great thing about Eric’s is that even if the myZeo web portal goes down this tool should continue to work.
Download Data Directly From the Device
If you’re using a Zeo bedside device then you can continue to use it and download the data directly from the memory card without relying on uploading it to the Zeo website. In order to do this you’ll have to read the documentation and use the Data Decoder Library. These files are hard to find as they’ve been removed from the Zeo developer website, but you can access them from our Forum thanks to our friend Dan Dascalesu. Zeo also created a viewer using this library that you can use via this Sourceforge page.
If you’ve found another way to download Zeo data please let us know. You can also participate in the great forum discussion that inspired this post.
At its core, Quantified Self is a community-driven effort to extract personal meaning from personal data. Our conferences reflect that by providing opportunities to learn what others are doing in their Quantified Self practice. Through our Show & Tell presentations you get to see first-hand accounts of how data is being collected and put to use in order to understand and investigate personal phenomena, but that’s not all our conference have to offer. In the spirit of collaborative learning we also schedule “Breakout Sessions” alongside our wonderful Show & Tell talks. These sessions, like all our conference programming, are developed and and facilitated by our wonderful attendees. Here’s a preview of just a few of the many fantastic Breakouts we have scheduled.
Title: The Self in Data
Breakout Leader: Sara Watson
Description: In my research on the QS community, I’ve found that we talk a lot about our technical requirements of data, and about how we want to use data. What we don’t often talk about is what it means to know ourselves through data. This breakout is an opportunity to discuss what data tells us about ourselves and how we relate to our data.
Title: On Sleep Tracking
Breakout Leader: Christel De Maeyer
Description: Does self-monitoring with devices like myZeo, Body Media create enough awareness and persuasion to change behavior and to maintain new habits? We would like to use this session to learn and share our experiences.
Title: Tracking breathing as a Unifying Experience
Breakout Leader: Danielle Roberts
Description: During this session we can exchange experiences on the tracking of respiration and tracking and visualising of life group data in general. You’ll have the opportunity to take part in a demo using custom breath tracking wearables and real time visualisation of breath data.
Title: Activity trackers
Breakout Leader: Michael Kazarnowicz
Description: We’ll take a look at the most common activity trackers on the market today. We will look at the trackers (maybe even play around with them hands-on) and compare the functions and the data you can get from them.
Title: QS as a Catalyst for Learning?
Breakout Leader: Hans de Zwart
Description: In this session we will explore whether quantifying yourself can act as a catalyst for learning. Can it speed up the learning process? Can it help us in achieving the holy grail of learning, a personalized tutor? What perverse effects might it have in the context of learning?
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. We hope to see you there!
What would you do if you had access to accurate galvanic skin response (GSR), skin temperature, heat flux, and 3-axis accelerometer data, as well as processed data estimating calorie burn, physical activity levels, steps, and sleep? We are holding a contest over in our QS Forum to provoke good questions that can be answered with our data. And there’s a prize.
Why do this? One of the things I’ve learned moderating Quantified Self show&tell talks over the last five years is that the most interesting and inspiring projects depend first on interesting questions. The data, visualization, and analysis is important, of course. But the meaning rests on having a good question, on personal curiosity and interest.
In conjunction with our upcoming QS Europe Conference in Amsterdam on May 11/12, our friends at BodyMedia have agreed to donate a complete personal SenseWear System (retail price $2,500), a state-of-the-art wearable sensor that allows raw data output. That’s going to be our prize. So if you have good questions, we can supply you with a way to collect the data.
To be clear: we care about your question, not your technical skills. I know that getting this much data about yourself can be intimidating. But data analysis and visualization skills are very high in the QS Community, and we can help you find technical support.
So if you have an interesting question or project that you would like to pursue, please describe it in this thread on the QS Forum. The winning idea will be chosen by QS Labs based on its ability to inspire others in the QS community. We will be having a breakout session at the upcoming conference where we discuss the projects posted to the thread.
Go here to post your proposal:
There are just 22 days left until the QS Europe 2013 Conference in Amsterdam! Here are all of the remaining talks and sessions that we have scheduled so far. Check them out below, and the full program online here and here. Hope to see you there!
QS Techniques in the Context of CBT and Personal Development (Michael Kazarnowicz)
Sleep, Fitness, and Weight Loss (Jasper Philipp Kalwies)
Habit Tracking (Ioan Mitrea)
Life-Logging using Spreadsheets (Phil von Stade)
Tracking Time (Florian Schumacher)
Activity Tracking (Arne Tensfeldt)
Meditation and Brain Function (Peter Lewis)
Stress Tracking (Steven Jonas)
Memetics (Stuart Calimport)
This Is What I Ate (Ellis Bartholomeus)
QS Data and Identity (Sara Watson)
The Internet of Things (Charalampos Doukas)
A healthy lifestyle through technology, science and fun (Martijn de Groot)
Folksonomy – classification by machine vs. humans (Sebastien Chastin)
QS, technology, and learning (Hans de Zwart)
Tracking Sleep (Christel De Maeyer)
QS and Citizen Science (Maneesh Juneja)
Stress-monitoring shirt Chillhug (Anja Hertenberger & Helene Timmers)
Elderly monitoring (Homer Papadopoulos)
Sensors and alrogithms for physical activity (Marco Altini)
Zenobase (Eric Jain)
Mood tracking at work (Veronica Rivera)
BodyTrack and Fluxtream (Anne Wright & Candide Kemmler)
Limeade (David Reeves)
Stress monitoring (Vishal Sisodia)
In The Flow app (Giorgio Baresi)
Self-tracking projects and awareness (Danielle Roberts)
From Quantification to Information using AI (Ivana Case)
UnFrazzle (Rajiv Mehta)
We are only four short weeks away from hosting our second Quantified Self European Conference and our excitement is building as we receive more previews of the talks and presentations we’ll be hosting. As you can probably guess, putting on a conference can be a stressful endeavor. Luckily stress tracking and management has been the focus of many different Quantified Self tools and experiments. There are no shortage of interesting methods for tracking both the physiological and psychological manifestations of stress and many more are probably on the horizon. More interesting, and of great interest to us within the QS community, is what is possible once stress becomes trackable and understandable.
Steven Jonas, a data analyst and organizer for the QS Portland meetup, will be giving a Show & Tell talk about his experiences with tracking stress at our upcoming conference. Having started with tracking his sleep in 2005, Steven has gone on to engage with multiple tracking projects including his experience with knowledge tracking and spaced repetition.
He’s been tracking his stress levels using the Emwave2, a neat tool for tracking and visualizing heart rate variability, for quite a while. Steven has taken his stress/HRV tracking beyond just intermittent testing and has experimented with hooking up his EmWave2 to his computer while working and installed software to alert him when it detect periods of stress. You can watch his previous talk about this process here.
This may seem like overkill to some. You might be saying, “Of course work is related to stress! What possibly could he hope to find out?” The beauty here lies in the unexpected and interesting findings that creep to the surface when multiple data streams are integrated. In this Show & Tell talk Steven will be explaining how this constant monitoring helped him understand how particular behaviors acted as triggers and how he could manage those triggers in order to reduce and defuse stress.
Low-level, seemingly mild stress still drains my energy, and many of my behaviors and things that I avoid are related to this stress. I developed a new ‘stress sense’, separate from the tool, that helped me see where my life was being affected by stress.
I hope you’ll join us at the conference to learn from Steven’s experience and take part in what is sure to be a great discussion!
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.
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!
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)
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)
Ari Berwaldt wanted to better understand how his sleep affected his mental performance. In this great talk Ari explains his insights from tracking his cognitive skills using Quantified Mind and some surprising results about the lack of correlation between his Zeo data and his mental performance. Make sure to keep watching as Ari also explains some very interesting data and conclusions from blood glucose and ketone tracking during fasting. Filmed at the QS Silicon Valley meetup group.