Tag Archives: art

QSEU15 Preview: Putting Physiological Signals into Pictures

Virtual View - early version

Media artist Danielle Roberts ( check out her Reverse Calendar), found her curiosity piqued by a scientific paper claiming that  the well-known calming benefits of being in nature can be achieved by merely looking at pictures of natural landscapes.

DanielleRobertsAt QS Europe 15, Danielle will present “Virtual View” project, which combines image and sound for immersion in a constructed natural environment – with a twist. Virtual View feeds your physiological signal back into the system, subtly altering based on your response.

Join us in Amsterdam for QS Europe on September 18th & 19th, 2015. It will be an incredible two full days of talks, breakout discussions, and working sessions. We look forward to seeing you there! 

Posted in Conference, QSEU15 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2015 QS Visualization Gallery: Part 3

We’re excited to share another round of personal data visualizations from our QS community. Below you’ll find another five visualizations of different types of personal data. Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 as well!

eddie-flights Name: Edward Dench
Description: All recorded flights I’ve taken.
Tools: Manual entry into openflights.org (there is an interface using TripIt though).


QS Visualization Name: Siva Raj
Description: After 6 months of regular exercise failed to improve my fitness and blood pressure levels, I switched to training above my endurance limit (anaerobic threshold). This was higher intensity but half the cycling time, yet my fitness and blood pressure improved within weeks.
Tools:Revvo – tracking fitness and intensity of workout; Withings – weight; iHealth BP Monitor – BP. Visualization created by overlaying Revvo screenshot with other information in photoshop.


Screenshot 2015-06-05 08.07.14 Name: Kurt Spindler
Description: Grafana is a common tool in the Software community to create beautiful dashboards to visualize server health (network, requests, workers, cpu, etc.) and therefore more easily diagnose problems. I created a custom iOS app that allows me to publish metrics to the same backend as Grafana, giving me Grafana dashboards for my personal health.
Tools:Custom iOS app, Grafana, Graphite
RyanODonnell_PagesReadPerMonthName: Ryan O’Donnell
Description: This semi-logarithmic graph is called the Standard Celeration Chart (SCC). It’s beauty is that anything a human does can be placed on this chart (i.e., standardized display). This also allows for cool metrics to be developed that lend well to predictability. I charted the number of pages that I read for my field of study, Behavior Analysis. I wrote a blog post on the display to speak some to the reading requirements suggested by professionals in the field. There were many variables that led to variations in reading rate, but the point of this work was to try and establish a steady reading repertoire. A recent probe in May of 2015 was at 2800 pages read. Essentially, I learned how to incorporate reading behavior analytic material almost daily in my life, which indirectly aids in the effectiveness I have as a practitioner and supervisor.
Tools: Standard Celeration Chart and paper-based data collection system (pages read each day on a sheet of paper).


Graph4_red_black Name: Francois-Joseph Lapointe
Description: This *Microbial Selfie* depicts the gene similarity network among various families of bacteria sampled from my gut microbiome (red) and oral microbiome (black). Two bacteria are connected in the network when their gene sequences are more similar than a fixed threshold (80%). The different clusters thus identify bacterial families restricted to a single body site (red or black) versus those inhabiting multiple body sites (red and black).
Tools: In order to generate this data visualization, samples of my oral and gut microbiome have been sequenced on a MiSeq platform by means of 16S rRNA targeted amplicon sequencing, and the resulting data have been analyzed using QIIME, an open-source bioinformatics pipeline for performing microbiome analysis. The gene similarity network was produced with the open graph viz platform Gephi, using the Fruchterman–Reingold algorithm.

Stay tuned here for more QS Gallery visualizations in the coming weeks. If you’ve learned something that you are willing to share from seeing your own data in a chart or a graph, please send it along. We’d love to see more!

Posted in QS Gallery, QS15 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 QS Visualization Gallery: Part 1

In 2013, just prior to our our Quantified Self Global Conference, we asked conference attendees to send us examples of their own personal data visualizations that they found especially meaningful. We were blown away by what everyone shared with us. From visualizations of blood glucose readings to GPS traces and plots of time tracking and productivity, the range of visualizations was astounding (you can view some of those visualization by searching the blog for the QS Gallery tag).

This year, we sent out the request once again to attendees of our QS15 Conference and Expo. Once again, our inbox immediately started to fill up with images, graphs, and visualizations describing the tracking experiences of our amazing community. Today, we’re excited to start sharing those visualizations with you here.

Beau Name: Beau Gunderson
Description: A homemade polysomnogram with a Zephyr Bioharness as the only data
Tools: IPython, matplotlib, pandas, seaborn, numpy.


Seasonal compliance Name: Shannon Conners
Description: This graph shows what initially looks like an interesting trend in my activity data. I seem to be less active during the summer months, but when I pair my activity and wear time for the BodyMedia FIT armband I used to generate the data, the real reason for the drop becomes clear. I’m wearing the armband less in the summer months to avoid upper arm strap tan! I know my own device usage patterns, so when I graphed the two measures together, it was immediately clear to me what was going on. To me, this is a simple example that illustrates one of the big challenges of looking at activity monitor data in the absence of data about device usage. Usage patterns can and do change over time and the reasons for these changes may not be as obvious as the change of the seasons. For example, something as simple as breaking the clip-on case you use to carry the phone that counts your steps could greatly impact how often you carry it, and therefore the quality of the data you collect. Some monitors don’t even record a usage metric with which to compare activity data. I like this graph as a reminder that interesting patterns may in fact be data collection or data quality issues in disguise.
Tools: BodyMedia FIT Core BW, JMP


HeadsUp Name:: David Korsunsky
Description: Mashing data from my favorite wearables, my medical records as well as data I track manually into a custom dashboard.
Tools: Heads Up Health is software that can enable anyone to create their own custom configurations.


4fcfb36b86f2241013000002_graph Name:: Daniel Reeves
Description: Number of (read) messages in my inbox over time.
Tools: Beeminder’s GmailZero.com


QSHRVSeasonalTrend Name:: Jo Beth Dow
Description: Trend analysis of my HRV over a 2.5 year period. Displays a stunning seasonal trend.
Tools: iPhone running SweetBeatLife app to measure clinical grade HRV on a daily basis.

Stay tuned here for more QS Gallery visualizations in the coming weeks. If you’ve learned something that you are willing to share from seeing your own data in a chart or a graph, please send it along. We’d love to see more!

Posted in QS Gallery | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Art of Self-Tracking

On June 20th we’re inviting the public to join us for the first ever Quantified Self Expo. It’s going to be a full day of dedicated to showcasing amazing QS tools with multiple demos, talks, how-to sessions, and exciting experiences. But that’s not all.

We’re excited to host, as part of the Expo, an exhibition focused on data as art. In the words of our co-curators, Alberto Frigo and Jacek Smolicki:

Art of Self-Tracking is an exhibition gathering a number of international artists who use different personal data tracking techniques in their artistic practices.

Ranging from meticulously composed manual diaries, hand-drawn representations of every meal consumed on daily basis to sonification of geo-locational data and 3D renderings of shapes recognised in clouds, the exhibition aims to highlight the plurality of perspectives on self-tracking.

We’re honored to be hosting the following artists and their amazing work (which you can see a few previews of below):

Alberto Frigo (IT/SE), Brian House (US), Catherine D’Ignazio (US), Daniel Peltz (US), Davide Di Saró (IT/CA) & Kristy Trinier (CA), Elly Clarke (UK/DE), Ellie Harrison (UK), Giovanni Meneguzzo (IT), Ingrid Forsler (SE)
Borítás Viktor alias Iwan Wilaga (HU/HK) , Jacek Smolicki (PL/SE), Jacopo Pontormo (IT), James Pricer (US), Janina Turek (PL), Morris Villarroel (CA/ES), Stephen Cartwright (US), and Yann Vanderme (FR).

Alberto Frigo

Alberto Frigo

Brian House

Brian House

Daniel Peltz

Daniel Peltz

Elle Harrison

Elle Harrison

Giovanni Meneguzzo

Giovanni Meneguzzo

Ingrid Forsler

Ingrid Forsler

Iwan Wilaga

Iwan Wilaga

Jacopo Pontormo

Jacopo Pontormo

James Pricer

James Pricer

Morris Villarroel

Morris Villarroel

Stephen Cartwright

Stephen Cartwright

To see the artwork for yourself we invite you to join us on the 20th. It’s going be a wonderful event.

Posted in Conference, QS15 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What We Are Reading


I’m filling in for Ernesto. I hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles and visualizations!


Don’t Relax: Uncomfortability Is The New Convenience by Adele Peters. This article looks at some products where a tolerable level of inconvenience is built into the design that prompts healthy actions or occasions for reflection.

Using Biometric Data to Make Simple Objects Come to Life by Liz Stinson. A whimsical project on display at Dublin Science Gallery’s Life Logging exhibition uses household objects to reflect and amplify the signals from your body.

The High Price of Precision Healthcare by Joseph Guinto. This is a fairly in-depth article on the relationship between drug and insurance companies and what happens when drug companies are given incentives for developing medicine for smaller populations. Not a breezy read by any means, but important for understanding the unintended consequences of changes made to the American healthcare system.

If Algorithms Know All, How Much Should Humans Help? by Steve Lohr. An exploration of a quandary that arises from machine learning methods. At what point do the automatic, self-learning processes mature to the point where any human intervention for correction is seen as injecting sullying “human bias.”


Networking the Coffee Maker by David Taylor. A fun, little project using an ElectricImp micro-controller to track when the office coffee pot was brewing. The author helpfully includes his code.

Using 750words.com and self-quantification by Morris Villarroel. Morris has been using 750words.com for the past three months and reflects on his previous attempts to use the service consistently and how he uses it now.



My brain on electricity: a 130 day tDCS experiment. This is a fascinating self-experiment where the author tries different tDCS montages while doing thirty minutes of dual n-back training.

My Path to Sobriety by ERAU. From Reddit, the poster shares the data from an effort to reduce one’s alcohol consumption.

Access Links

Open Humans Aims to Be the Social Network for Science Volunteerism
Los Angeles Unveils Dashboard to Measure Sustainability Efforts
Who Owns Your Data?

From the Forum

Hardware Startup: Tracking Your Hydration
Five years of weight tracking
QS Research – 5 minute survey!
Zeo Sleep Monitor
Google Fit

Posted in What We're Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

The inside story of how Apple’s new medical research platform was born by Daneila Hernandez. I know we’ve been talking a lot about ResearchKit lately, but I had to add this fantastic piece on Stephen Friend’s journey that lead him to help bring it out of Apple’s lab and onto our iPhones. Of particular interest was this sentence from a FOIA request on Apple’s meeting with the FDA in 2013:

“Apple sees mobile technology platforms as an opportunity for people to learn more about themselves. “

Your Data Is Not Your Life Story by Michael Humphrey. An interesting take on the influence of machines and algorithms on our ability to understand and tell the stories of our lives.

Data Privacy in a Wearable World by Gawain Morrison. Gawain lists five steps for companies to consider as they beocome the gatekeepers of our personal data. My favorite: “Set up an ethical body”

DJ Patil Talks Nerd to Us by Andrew Flowers. You may know DJ as the gentleman who coined the term “data scientist” or from his groundbreaking work at LinkedIn, or maybe even his new position as the deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist at the White House. Regardless, this interview sheds some light on his new role and how he thinks about the power of data at the national level.

Wireless Sensors Help Scientists Map Staph Spread Inside Hospital by Scott Hensley. A great piece on a new research article the described a new digital epidemiology method used to track individuals and infection in a hospital. One can’t help but wonder about the future of this type of system for understanding healthcare interactions now that we have low-cost iBeacon, NFC, and RF technology embedded into our phones.

Sensored City by Creative Commons. Together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the City of Louisville, CC Science is creating an open-source project to map and visualize environmental data. So great to see this work getting out there.

ShannonConners_FoodLogging Reflections on my ongoing diet and fitness project by Shannon Conners. Again Shannon wows us with her beautiful and thoughtful explanation on how tracking and visualizing her data has set her on a path to a healthy weight.

“I have now collected enough free-living data in my own n=1 study to quantify what works for me to lose weight and maintain in a healthy range for me — an understanding that largely eluded me up to this point in my life. Not surprisingly, I have converged on the same deficit strategy commonly employed in weight loss studies that treat people like caged rats, closely quantifying their intake and activity to prove that negative calorie balance is the critical factor that causes weight loss. I’m truly grateful that I didn’t need to live in a cage to learn what I have over the past few years. In many ways, learning what I have from my data has helped set me free.”


happiness-dashboard Tracking Joy at Work by Joe Nelson. Joe and his coworkers use Slack to communicate at work. He was wondering why sometimes things just weren’t working right so he created a tool to randomly ask himself and his coworkers how he they feel. Results are then displayed anonymously on a dashboard. So cool.

deardata Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. Two friends track one topic each week and send each other postcards with hand-drawn visualizations based on the data. Absolutely beautiful work.


AirTransformed Air Transformed By Stafanie Posavec with Miriam Quick. Two wearable data objects based on open air quality data: Touching Air (a necklace) and Seeing Air (glasses).


Laurie Frick – American Canvas. A great interview with our friend and data artist, Laurie Frick. Make sure to watch through to the end.

Access Links
It’s Not Just the Watch: Apple Also Helping Cancer Patients
Americans Believe Personal Medical Data Should Be Openly Shared with Their Health Care Providers
What should we do about re-identification? A precautionary approach to big data privacy

From the Forum
Looking for Android Time Tracking App
Looking for a software / app to track the general health
Heart Rate and Sleep Monitor

Posted in What We're Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

QS15 Conference Preview: Stephen Cartwright on 17 Years of Location Tracking

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with two days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers, plus a third day dedicated to the Activate public expo. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.

Steve4bStephen Cartwright has been attending the QS Conferences since 2012, where he first spoke about his ambitious geolocation tracking project. As an associate professor at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches sculpture, digital fabrication, and furniture design, Stephen brings an interesting and welcomed point of view and set of experiences to our show&tell program.

At the QS15 Conference he will be sharing his process and what he’s learned from tracking his location every hour using a GPS for the last 17 years. He will describe how his practice has changed and adapted to new technologies over the years, including how active versus passive tracking techniques have impacted this project.

My tracking informs my life and especially my art, so I will consider my tracking through the lens of my 3D data visualization sculpture. The artistic aspect of my work allows the data visualization to become more than informative graphs, they become new landscapes of data.


We’re excited to have Stephen joining us and asked him a few questions about himself and what he’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Stephen: This is a difficult question, I use different tools for different stages of my work. My practice would be nowhere without a GPS. It took me a long time to replace my Garmin stand-alone GPS but I now use the MotionX GPS app for my iPhone. My requirements for these apps/devices is that the waypoints have to be saved with the date and time attached.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Stephen: The conference is a great place to be among like-minded people and share ideas and inspiration. Although all the attendees have a lot in common everyone comes to self-tracking from a different angle and seeks different outcomes. I love to see how similar practices result in improvements in performance and health, self-help, and even art.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference?

Stephen: Come talk to me about the intersection of art and science, data-visualization, and GPS/location tracking.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Stephen: I am looking for the best smart phone based step and movement tracker.

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Stephen: I would like to hear more about the relationship between individual trackers and larger data studies. How well do we know ourselves as compared to what can be inferred about us by our data footprint or studies of people in similar circumstances?

Stephen’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition.

Register here!

Bonus Video of Stephen’s Data:

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What We Are Reading

We have a great list for you today. Special thanks to all those who are reaching out via Twitter to send us articles, links, and other bits of interestingness. Keep ‘em coming!

Self-Experimentation: Crossing the Borders Between Science, Art, and Philosophy, 1840–1920 by Katrin Solhdju. This brief essay lays out a great foundation for anyone interesting in the history and philosophy of science, with an obvious focus on the self-experiment. This essay is hosted at the Max Plank Institute for the History of Science, at which I highly recommend spending some time clicking around and reading the wonderful essays and articles.

After the Data Confessional: interview with Ellie Harrison by Stephen Fortune. A very interesting and thought-provoking interview with artist Ellie Harrison. For six years self-tracking data was the core component of Ellie’s work as an artist. Then she decided to stop and reconsider her tracking practices and what it meant to her and her work.

Data is the New “___” by Sara M. Watson. “What do we talk about when we talk about data?” is the question Sara posses here to frame a wonderful piece on how our use of metaphors influences our view of data.

A brief history of big data everyone should read by Bernard Marr. If we’re going to talk about how we talk about data it is probably useful to have some historical context. Great timeline here of data in society.

Baby Lucent: Pitfalls of Applying Quantified Self to Baby Products [PDF] by Kevin Gaunt, Júlia Nacsa, and Marcel Penz. An interesting article here from three Swedish design students that looks at current baby and parenting tracking technology. They also conducted a design process to develop a future tracking concept to better understand parent’s reactions to baby tracking. I thought there were a few interesting finding from their interviews.

Hey, Nate: There Is No ‘Rich Data’ In Women’s Sports by Allison McCann. It only seems fitting that a few days before this weekend’s MIT Sloan Conference on Sports Analytics Conference, the “it” place to learn about and discuss sports data, that we learn about the amazing dearth of data collected and published about women’s sports.

Analyzing Email Data by Austin G. Waters. A great deep dive into the 23,965 emails that Austin has collected in his personal account since 2009. I won’t spoil it, but this post just keeps getting better and better as you scroll. Bonus points to Austin for describing his methods and open-sourcing the code he used to conduct this analysis.

The App That Tricked My Family Into Exercising by Adam Weitz. Not a lot of data in this post, but I enjoyed the personal and social changes Adam described through his use the Human activity tracking app.


Smart Art by Natasha Dzurny. Using IFTTT and a few littleBits modules Natasha created a piece of artwork that reflects how often she goes to the gym. Would love to seem more DIY data reflections like this!

How does weather affect U.S. sleep patterns? by Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle analyzed 142,272 sleep reports from their users (recorded in January of 2015) to explore mood upon awakening, stress levels before bed, and sleep quality. Fascinating stuff.

Access Links
HHS Expands Its Approach to Making Research Results Freely Available For the Public
Many Patients Would Like To Hide Some Of Their Medical Histories From Their Doctors
Doctors say data fees are blocking health reform

From the Forum
Best ECG/EKG Tool for Exercise
BodyMedia API – Anyone have an active key/application?
Sleep monitor recommendations for research on sleep in hospitals
Simplified nutrition, alertness, mood tracking

Posted in What We're Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

Would You Share Private Data for the Good of City Planning? by Henry Grabar. The use of personal, and typically private, data for municipal planning and research is becoming more common. Strava, Uber, and other companies are passing along their user data to government bodies interested in understanding their constituents. In this article, past projects are described and new ideas are put forth about this growing trend.

The social network for people who want to upload their DNA to the Internet by Daniela Hernandez. A wonderful piece of journalism on the growing OpenSNP  platform for open user-donated genetic data. Take some time and read the whole thing. (Full disclosure: My 23&Me data is available on OpenSNP.org.)

What Cognition-as-a-Service should mean? by Debidatta Dwibedi. The promise of fitness trackers for many is that the use of them will improve one’s fitness. Dwibedi expresses the desire for a tool to make one wiser by helping the user avoid logical fallacies. There are tools that can help, like spaced repetition.

Connected Car: Quantified Self becomes Quantified Car by Melanie Swan.

Sensors sensors everywhere
Near and far
On your wrist
In your home
And in your car.

What On Kawara’s Analog Wisdom at the Guggenheim Has to Offer a Digital World by Ben Davis. A fantastic peek into “On Kawara: Silence” a recently opened retrospective hosted at the Guggenheim.

He was making art about the “quantified self”—the contemporary self-improvement craze for tracking and charting one’s personal data—not just before the fitbit, but before the handheld calculator.

What My Hearing Aid Taught Me About the Future of Wearables by Ryan Budish. A great article here about how to think about possible ways our technology with change and shape the world around us. Special consideration is given to our ever evolving relationship with the tools of wearable computing.

I tried to quantify my sex life—and I am appalled (NSFW language) by Miles Klee. I went back and forth whether to include this here, but in the end I think it’s important to expose tracking of all types.

How I audited my daily media habits and improved the way I read by Lydia Laurenson. Lydia was concerned with the amount of bad content she was reading on the web.For a month, she rated the articles she read according to a 5-point scale with categories like “I’m actually angry I clicked this link” and “Wow, this is really cool or useful. I’m glad I saw this.” With these ratings, she was able to see which publications produced good contents, and which outlets gave her recommendations worth her time. You can check out her (empty) tracking spreadsheet here.

The Quantified Chef by Dan Brown. Dan doesn’t fancy himself a self-tracker, but was interested in understanding his cooking habits as the main dinner cook for his family. Some interesting finds and thoughts about what it means to collect data on yourself.

Using a Log Book and Excel To Assess Time Use by Morris Villarroel. Morris spoke about how he uses journals to track his life at our 2014 QS Europe Conference. In this post, he explains how he transfers hand-written data into Excel for more in-depth analysis.


Sid Lee Dashboard. Sid Lee, a creative agency, outfitted it’s Paris office with multiple sensors and data gathering systems powered by Arduinos to feed a beautiful real-time data dashboard. Make sure to click through for the interactive site and watch their short video.

Two Thousand And Fourteen by Tyler Baird. A sentence or two cannot do this amazing work justice. Click, read, and take in the 8,760 hours of Tyler’s tracked life.

Access Links
The BMJ Today: Patient Centered Care
Health Data Exploration Project Announces Agile Research Project Awards
FDA makes official its hands-off approach to regulating health apps and medical software
Small thoughts on large cohorts
Selling your right of privacy at $5 a pop

From the Forum
Continuous HRV monitoring
New Member
Separation of cloud vs local storage?

Posted in What We're Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cors Brinkman: Lifelog as Self-Portrait

Cors Brinkman is a media artist and student. In June of 2013, he started a project to keep track of himself. He decided to start with LifeSlice, a tool to have your computer keep track of your behavior by taking a picture, screenshot, and location data every hour. After experimenting with that system Cors added in mood tracking to round out his data collection. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Cors describes his process and some of the interesting ways he visualized and analyzed his thousands of self-portraits.

Posted in Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment