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The 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference Roundup


On May 10-11th we hosted the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference. Hundreds of self-trackers, toolmakers, scientists, and enthusiasts came together to share, learn, and discuss how we can create personal meaning through personal data. The conference featured over 100 different sessions that included Show&Tell talks, Breakouts on a wide variety of topics, and inspirational and thought-provoking plenaries.

We’re currently processing all the videos from the conference and will be posting those soon. Here are some of the web posts and pictures attendees have published documenting their QS Europe experiences.

Keeping Your Quantified Self on the Right Track by Ian Forrester

QS Community Keeps Inspiring One Another by Martijn de Groot

Wrap-up of the QS Conference 2014 in Amsterdam by Yago Veith

Quantified Self EU Conference by Paul LaFontaine

QS Europe Conference 2014 by Jakob Eg Larson

#QSEU14 Amsterdam Recap by Kitty Ireland

Quantified Self and Philosophy at #QSEU14 by Kitty Ireland

Quantified Self Amsterdam 2014 Storify by Laurie Frick

Ten Things I Learned at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference by Bob Troia

Quantified Self Conference Europe 2014 by Danielle Roberts

Attendees have been posting their photos of the conference to the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Flickr Group.

If you’ve written an post about your conference experience or have photos you’d like to share please get in touch.

Thank you to everyone who participated, volunteered, spoke, shared, and made our conference an experience to remember. It went by too quickly, and we can’t wait to see you all again!

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Joris Janssen on SenseOS

Joris Janssen is a researcher who’s focused his work on combining sensing algorithms with psychological insights. Currently he’s a researcher and developer at Sense Observation Systems, a Netherlands-based company developing context-aware computing. In this talk, filmed at the Amsterdam QS meetup group, Joris gives a brief explanation of the work they do at SenseOS, then discusses Goalie, an app developed to use psychological theory, active and passive sensing, and a therapy gateway to treat and improve depression.

We’re excited to have Joris and his colleague from SenseOS, Jan Peter Larson, joining us at our upcoming 2014 Quantified Self European Conference. If you’d like to learn more about the work Joris and Jan are doing at SenseOS we invite you to register today!

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Sarah Lewington and Michelle Hughes on Empathic Design

Sarah Lewington and Michelle Hughes study and teach fashion communication at Nottingham Trent University. In the 5-minute Ignite talk below, they talk about designing with empathy for a project they’re doing with Unilever, with more questions than answers, such as: what is the relative importance of data and functionality vs. emotional attachment to a device? What do you think? (Filmed at the QS Europe conference in Amsterdam.)

The impact of self-tracking on empathic design and market research by Sarah Lewington & Michelle Huges from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Jakob Larsen: My Experience with a Smartphone Brainscanner

 Jakob Larsen and his team at the Mobile Informatics Lab at the Technical University of Denmark have developed a way to build a real-time 3-D model of your brain using a smartphone and the Emotiv EPOC game controller headset. In the Ignite talk below, Jakob describes how the fourteen sensors in this mobile EEG device rival a traditional lab EEG setup, and where he sees this inspiring project going. (Filmed at the QS Europe conference in Amsterdam.)

My experience with a smartphone brainscanner by Jakob Eg Larsen from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Ulrich Atz: Experience Sampling of My Stress

Ulrich Atz was curious about measuring his stress levels. He chose three methods to do this: experience sampling, day reconstruction method, and heart rate. In the video below, he helpfully describes how he went about designing his experiment, how the different methods work and the challenges of each one, and what he learned. He was surprised to discover which method worked best! (Filmed at the QS Europe conference in Amsterdam.)

Experience sampling of my stress by Ulrich Atz from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Videos from Quantified Self Europe Conference

We’re excited to announce that the videos from the Quantified Self Europe conference in Amsterdam are starting to come online! I’ll be posting them individually here on the blog, but if you can’t wait for that, you can find some of them here on Vimeo.

Also, QS Amsterdam member Kees Plattel put together this beautiful video impression of the conference, to give you a flavor of what it was like, or to remind you of your experience there. Enjoy, and see you at the next conference (to be announced soon!)

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What I Learned from QS Europe

There are many ways to experience a conference, especially one with so many inspiring overlapping sessions presented by attendees. My personal bias is towards mood tracking, so that’s mostly what I paid attention to this weekend, as well as meeting all the impressive quantifiers who came!

If you want to look back over the conference, here are links to the photos and tweets that came out of it. Paul MillerMartha Rotter, and Gangadhar Sulkunte also wrote up some great summaries of their experiences. Huge thanks to our great friends at QS Amsterdam for helping to make this happen!

Here is some of what I took away from the weekend:

  • Jenny Tillotson is working on “emotional clothing” that can sense how you’re feeling and boost your mood/energy or help you relax.
  • I had never thought of the idea of collecting silence, as Danielle Roberts does.
  • Lisette Sutherland’s recipe for overcoming social anxiety? Habituation. Pick a social thing that scares you but that you enjoy doing, and keep doing it over and over again, even if it’s hard at first. You will learn to recognize the patterns of your feelings and begin to be able to insert a rational thought into the emotional loop – “this fear is not real!” – which will lessen the severity of the emotion.
  • A good reminder – not every pattern has meaning. Sometimes it’s just meaningless coincidence.
  • Jan Peter Larsen told us about patterns that predict addiction or depression relapse, and interventions to help prevent full relapse. The predicting patterns include sleep inconsistency, social passivity, and web surfing, both duration and types of sites visited. The interventions include inviting reflection on and awareness of your mood patterns, and facilitating the act of reaching out to other people for support.
  • Steve Dean showed how deconstructing behaviors into sequences of small, specific actions can help you design rituals that work for you in your daily life.
  • Richard Ryan presented research showing that emotions only last for 90 seconds, unless you keep amplifying them.
  • One of my own insights from the weekend is that carefully managing my inputs (sensory, social, emotional and informational) is important to not triggering destructive or negative emotional states.
  • Another of my insights: when you recognize a painful pattern in yourself, that’s the first step towards replacing it with a helpful pattern that meets the same underlying need, but in a non-harmful way. This led to a pretty significant breakthrough for me!
  • Marco van Heerde pointed out that sometimes too much precision in your data isn’t helpful for building awareness. It’s ok to be vague!
  • Kristin Prevallet taught us some powerful mood-managing exercises, including EFT. You can focus on and change how your body feels in order to change your mental state. In other words, ease your emotions somatically, before they turn into big stories in your mind.
  • And finally a wise insight from Robin Barooah: the problem with research isn’t that it’s too slow, it’s that existing research isn’t put into practice.
It was another transformative event for me, and I’m already looking forward to the next conference! Feel free to share any other insights from the weekend in the comments below.
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Trust Your Results: Afternoon Sessions on Food and Health

In the last session of the day, we had a few experimental talks on noticing how food changes physical condition. It was also an interesting series of talks that shows the importance of collecting our own subjective data to back up or refute the other technological data that we might also have access to.

I kicked off the session with my talk “Quantifying My Genetics: Why I have been banned from caffeine”. My colleagues and friends helped me quantify my behavior after one, two, or three cups of coffee by giving my agitation a number from 0-10.

I found out that I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer from my genetic results and it seems like there is a correlation between how caffeine affects me and my genes. My genes are not deterministic, I couldn’t have known how caffeine affects me without making my own independent observations.

On a fun note, the crowd guessed that I had one cup of caffeine today, they were right, I had a cup of tea earlier down in the restaurant, away from the conference.

Next we had Martha Rotter who talked about how she experimented with her diet to solve her skin problems after doctors told her there was not much she could do. She did one allergy test where the results said she was allergic to chicken and soy- but after cutting out both of those foods, she did not see any changes but it gave her the idea to test different food groups.

After her experiment with a chicken and soy-less diet, she tried a few other food groups, eventually hitting on cutting out dairy. Her skin cleared up within two weeks of stopping drinking milk, eating cheese.

I think the take away message from our two sessions this afternoon, don’t be afraid to do your own testing, trust in your results.

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Genetics Communities and the Future of Genes

I led a very interesting discussion at Quantified Self Europe this morning with about 10 attendees with a variety of backgounds. There were entrepreneurs who wanted to start genetic information based companies, a designer, a think tank analyst, and people who are just interested in where the field is and where it was going.

The first thing we did was to create an impromptu community, putting the chairs into a circle and starting the discussion with what brought each of us to the topic of Creating Genetic Communities. This is where the conversation started but the topics ranged from where the industry is going to how to use design to help a non-technical audience understand their genetic data.

There was agreement in the room that the price of DNA sequencing is decreasing exponentially, the discussion then moved to what an individual can do with their own data vs. getting aggregate genetic data. There was an intense debate about open data vs. transparency of who has access vs. private databases. There was also a challenge thrown out by two group members to make genetic information more actionable.

It’s an amazing group of people who have come together in Amsterdam to discuss where we are going as we get more data on ourselves.

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Remko Siemerink on Mood and Music

Remko Siemerink tells his personal story of health insights through accidental lifelogging. He has bipolar disorder, and has been using last.fm over the past 7 years to track his music listening and compare it with his friends’ music patterns. He talks about insights he has gained using various tools that make use of last.fm’s API. For example, Remko discovered a pattern of listening intensely when he’s feeling good, and not listening to music when he is feeling depressed, usually in the summer. He also suggests it would be great to have a similar service for groceries, so you could correlate your mood with foods you eat. Watch his engaging story below. (Filmed at Amsterdam QS Show&Tell #3.)

Remko Siemerink – Mood & Music from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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