Gary Wolf

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QS Access App: See your HealthKit Data in a Table

On Wednesday this week we learned that the QS Access app we submitted to the Apple store was approved. This means you can download the QS Access app on iTunes. We hope you’ll find it useful. Our app is a very simple tool for accessing HealthKit data in a table so that you can explore it using Numbers, Excel, R, or any other CSV compatible tool.

It is still early days for HealthKit, but my conversations with toolmakers at Quantified Self events convinces me that there will be many device and software makers that integrate with Apple’s platform for collecting and analyzing personal data. I hope this will allow more people to learn from their own data by reflecting on changes over time and by combining multiple data streams – such as activity, sleep, and nutrition – into a single visualization for comparison.

To give you your HealthKit data in tabular format, we’ve had to simplify it. QS Access shows your data in either “hourly” or “daily” chunks.  These won’t be appropriate for all uses, but many interesting questions can be asked of data that is presented as a time series using hourly and daily values. This is just a starting point, and we’re looking forward to making it do more based on your feedback.

We very much hope that if you learn something from your data using QS Access, you’ll share your project by participating in a Quantified Self Show&Tell meetup and by joining us at QS15 Conference and Exposition next year in San Francisco. Suggestions about the app itself and interesting examples of usage can be shared with us directly by emailing us: labs@quantifiedself.com,

Read a short example of using QS Access to look at my activity data.
Find Support for QS Access in the QS Forum.

The QS Access App was authored by our long time QS Labs friend and collaborator Robin Barooah.

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Gary Wolf: Even when I'm active, I'm sedentary


Gary21634

We recently released our QS Access app, which allows you to see HealthKit data in tabular format. Not very many tools feed data into HealthKit yet, but Apple’s platform does pick up step data gathered by the iPhone itself. I have step data on HealthKit going back about two weeks. When Ernesto Ramirez and I were playing around with QS Access, loading the data into Excel and looking at some simple charts, I learned something: Even when I’m active, I’m sedentary.

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My daily step totals ranged from a depressing 3334 steps on Thursday, September 18 to an inspiring 21,634 steps on Friday, September 25, but – as these charts clearly show – even  on the extreme days my activity was concentrated into relatively short periods when I got up from my desk and went out to do something. Most hours, every day, were spent with hardly any movement at all. I’m sitting at my desk, and sitting at my desk some more, and sitting at my desk still more. That’s probably not good. No, not good at all.

Pulling my data out of HealthKit and seeing a few simple charts gave me a bit of insight that I hope will lead to a change in how much I sit. It was a great to be able to easily make some simple analysis of my data. I hope you’ll find QS Access useful also (you can learn more about it here). Please share what you learn in the QS Access thread in the QS Forum or by emailing us about your projects: qsaccess@quantifiedself.com.

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Access Matters

Someday, you will have a question about yourself that impels you to take a look at some of your own data. It may be data about your activity, your spending at the grocery store, what medicines you’ve taken, where you’ve driven your car. And when you go to access your data, to analyze it or share it with somebody who can help you think about it, you’ll discover…

You can’t.

Your data, which you may have been collecting for months or years using some app or service that you found affordable, appealing, and useful, will be locked up inside this service and inaccessible to any further questions you want to ask it. You have no legal right to this data. Nor is there even an informal ethical consensus in favor of offering ordinary users access to their data. In many cases, commercial tools for self-tracking and self-measurement manifest an almost complete disinterest in access, as demonstrated by a lack of data export capabilities, hidden or buried methods for obtaining access, or no mention of data access rights or opportunities in the terms of service and privacy policy.

Now is the time to work hard to insure that the data we collect about ourselves using any kind of commercial, noncommercial, medical, or social service ought to be accessible to ourselves, as well as to our families, caregivers, and collaborators, in common formats using convenient protocols. In service to this aim, we’ve decided to work on a campaign for access, dedicated to helping people who are seeking access to their data by telling their stories and organizing in their support. Although QS Labs is a very small organization, we hope that our contribution, combined with the work of many others, will eventually make data access an acknowledged right.

The inspiration for this work comes from the pioneering self-trackers and access advocates who joined us last April in San Diego for a “QS Public Health Symposium.” Thanks to funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and program support from the US Department of Health And Human Services, Office of the CTO, and The Qualcomm Institute at Calit2, we convened 100 researchers, QS toolmakers, policy makers, and science leaders to discuss how to improve access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit.  During our year-long investigation leading up to the meeting, we learned to see the connection between data access and public health research in a new light.

If yesterday’s research subjects were production factors in a scientist’s workshop; and if today’s participants are – ideally – fully informed volunteers with interests worthy of protection; then, the spread of self-tracking tools and practices opens the possibility of a new type of relationship in which research participants contribute valuable craft knowledge, vital personal questions, and intellectual leadership along with their data.

We have shared our lessons from this symposium in a full, in-depth report from the symposium, including links to videos of all the talks, and a list of attendees. We hope you find it useful. In particular, we hope you will share your own access story. Have you tried to use your personal data for personal reasons and faced access barriers? We want to hear about it.

You can tweet using the hashtag #qsaccess, send an email to labs@quantifiedself.com, or post to your own blog and send us a link. We want to hear from you.

The key finding in our report is that the solution to access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit hinges on individual access to our own data. The ability to download, copy, transfer, and store our own data allows us to initiate collaboration with peers, caregivers, and researchers on a voluntary and equitable basis. We recognize that access means more than merely “having a copy” of our data. Skills, resources, and access to knowledge are also important. But without individual access, we can’t even begin. Let’s get started now.

An extract from the QSPH symposium report

[A]ccess means more than simply being able to acquire a copy of relevant data sets. The purpose of access to data is to learn. When researchers and self-trackers think about self-collected data, they interpret access to mean “Can the data be used in my own context?” Self-collected data will change public health research because it ties science to the personal context in which the data originates. Public health research will change self-tracking practices by connecting personal questions to civic concerns and by offering novel techniques of analysis and understanding. Researchers using self-collected data, and self-trackers collaborating with researchers, are engaged in a new kind of skillful practice that blurs the line between scientists and participants… and improving access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit means broadly advancing this practice.

Download the QSPH Report here.

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Tidings: QS Southern Oregon Show&Tell

Our friends in Southern Oregon had their 3rd Quantified Self meeting yesterday at Rogue Hack Lab, a makerspace in Medford, Oregon. Dr. Dawn Lemanne, who organized the meeting, recorded the event on her mobile, and we’ll post it as soon as it arrives.

One especially interesting note from this meeting: We hear from Dr. Lemanne that the attendees had a chance to play with the Lapka personal environmental monitor. I’ve enjoyed the Lapka marketing campaign very much, under the impression it was a hoax. Therefore, I take its appearance at a QS show&tell to be a bit of real news. When we check the Lapka Environmental Map for July 15, 2014, we find several measurements recorded in Medford during the QS meeting. Not incontrovertible evidence, perhaps, but evidence nonetheless!

Our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Lemanne for sending in this report. (Readers interested in self-tracking, physical activity, and cancer may appreciate reading her recent paper in Oncology: “The Role of Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention, Treatment, Recovery, and Survivorship.”)

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Seth Roberts: The Best Way To Learn Is To Do

My friend Seth Roberts, pioneering self-experimenter and personal scientist, died last Saturday. Seth’s sister Amy, made the announcement yesterday on his blog. The news was unexpected and very sad. A few things Seth taught me:

  • Doing lots of experiments keeps you supplied with new ideas.
  • With sensitive and reliable measurements, tiny experimental effects can yield surprising clues.
  • The people who care about a problem most have the best chance of solving it, if they have access to tools.

Seth’s contributions as a colleague and teacher had many dimensions, but in thinking about him nonstop this morning what I find myself marveling at most is the unusual style he had in nearly every conversation. Seth became interested when he saw somebody thinking independently and, like the best teachers, he wanted to understand the process by which students and collaborators developed confidence their conjectures. Countless times, I heard Seth ask somebody “Why do you think that?” His challenge was direct and generous, for if you were willing to expose your reasons you could count on him to apply himself alongside you, thinking up ways to improve your investigation, make your measurements more practical, or give your analysis more logical or mathematical power. Seth was acutely aware that confidence in experimental results requires investment. More than any other experimentalist I’ve known, Seth respected the incremental nature of building confidence in our ideas and finding new ideas worthy of confidence. He encouraged us to do small experiments first, to find easier ways to collect data, and to avoid being tripped up at the outset by grandiose schemes of irrefutability.

We’ll collect and share some more impressions and memories of our friend and collaborator when the shock of this news lessens, but in the meantime I want to post a video of one of the talks he gave a few years ago about how to design personal experiments.

For further reading:

In Richard Sprague’s post from today, linked directly above, there is this passage:

 I found his blog, and discovered that he was living near me in Beijing. A famous professor like him – a New York Times bestselling author and all that – might be hard to get ahold of, but one day out of the blue I sent Seth an email, wondering if he’d like to get together for lunch. He replied in minutes and said sure, how about tomorrow?

That’s Seth exactly.

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Talking QS for Kids with Sesame Workshop!

grover_sesame

Sesame Street has been teaching kids to count since 1969. It was a big part of my childhood and I always loved it. After all, children get measured a lot: weighed, evaluated, tested. If we adults sometimes wonder how the powerful techniques of quantification can be used for our own benefit, rather than merely serving to strengthen control by others, imagine what it looks like to a kid still learning the basic language of numbers.

Can QS be useful for kids? When we learned that Jennifer Kotler and June Lee, two excellent researchers from Sesame Workshop were planning to be with us in Amsterdam in May at the QS Europe conference, we decided to do a short interview and ask them our question outright.

What is your interest in Quantified Self for young kids?

Jennifer Kotler: What I think is really interesting about the QS movement is that you see data as both an input and an output. Originally I had been thinking about measuring behavior, so we could better understand children’s lives. How do kids use media? Who is around them? That’s akin to ethnographic studies. But when I listened to people talk about quantifying themselves, I realized that data is also a kind of content that informs the self. Kids like to know how they are doing and what they are learning, that feedback is connected to self-regulation. So we are now thinking of Quantified Self data as both an input and an output.

What’s the difference between the way typical media companies might research their viewers and what Sesame Workshop does with kids?

Jennifer Kotler: Our primary mission is to help all children reach their highest potential. We want to help them learn. So we use media as a tool to support child development. We don’t see our media as entertainment only.

When do kids start to care about numbers?

Jennifer Kotler: Even infants have some awareness of mathematical concepts but it is around the preschool age when children are taught about the meaning of numbers more formally. The more socially or emotionally meaningful numbers are in relation to individual children, the more they can learn.

What’s the most interesting research that involves young kids with data?

Jennifer Kotler: There are some small scale ethnographic studies, using a GoPro camera and interviews, but those happen with older children. As Sir Ken Robinson said, a three year old is not “half a six year old.” You can’t take experiences from older kids and just make it easier. You have to ask what is appropriate for kids of that age. We’re coming to the conference to learn about techniques we can use in our research, but also we are also coming in with an open mind and looking forward to absorbing it all!

The Sesame workshop creates media. So what if the results of your research is: kids should have minimal screen time? Could you handle that research result?

June Lee: The big goal of the research we do is not to get people to consume more media, but to improve the media we do make so that people learn more, engage more, and improve their lives.

We can’t wait to see June and Jennifer at our 2014 European Conference in Amsterdam. If you’re interested in combining QS practices with child development and education make sure you register today. We’re only one month away!

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Our 2014 Friends of QS

In 2013, Kate, Ernesto, and I created a Friends of QS program to help fund our work at QS Labs, which includes putting on our QS conferences and events, maintaining the web site and video programming, and creating opportunities for our vibrant global community to connect. We reached out to friends in our network of self-trackers, toolmakers, inventors, and entrepreneurs, and their response was inspiring. Last year we welcomed the contributions of more than 30 organizations and individuals to our inaugural group of Friends.

As we gear up for our 2014 Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam, we are proud to acknowledge new and returning Friends of QS. If you believe in our work and would like to support it, please consider joining. We welcome your participation. Just get in touch!

Our Friends of QS include:

AMAX is the manufacturer of datacenter solutions for big data analytics (Hadoop) and OpenStack, including architecture based on Facebook’s Open Compute design. Passionate believers that data is the key breakthrough to a fuller understanding of this world, AMAX is looking to collaborate with startups in need of dynamic computing power.
Beddit produces an ultra thin film sensor that fits under the sheets on your bed and tracks your sleeping patterns, heart rate, breathing, snoring, movements and environment. No wearable sensors.  In the morning, the app tells you how you slept and how to turn your data into actionable ideas for improving your sleep and wellness.
Beeminder is a goal-tracking tool with teeth. Connect a QS gadget or app (Fitbit, RescueTime, etc) and Beeminder plots your progress towards your goal on a Yellow Brick Road. Stay on track and Beeminder is free. Go off the road and you (literally) pay the price.
Calit2 is a multidisciplinary research institution jointly run by UCSD and UCI devoted to conducting cutting-edge research discovering new ways that emerging technologies can improve the state’s economy and citizens’ quality of life.
dacadoo is a Swiss startup with a mission to improve users’ health and fitness. The platform calculates a personal health score, a number from 1 (low) to 1’000 (high), to indicate current health status. By integrating gamification and social networking principles, dacadoo motivates participants to be active in a fun and easy way by tracking and comparing personal health, lifestyle and fitness.
Chris Dancy’s name and avatar are synonymous with the future of work, edutainment, technically enabled external evolution, and his quantified life (existence). Since 2007, Chris has spoken around the globe on emerging trends, and has been featured in TechCrunch, Wired magazine, Bloomberg TV, and NPR Radio as the most connected human on Earth.
Douglass Winthrop is an SEC registered investment advisor with offices in New York and San Francisco. The firm believes in ”self knowledge through numbers” on many fronts and manages $1 billion for individuals, families, trusts, and endowments. Douglass Winthrop is owned and managed by its principals.
DreamsCloud is a social platform and resource for people of all ages with an interest in exploring dreams and the unconscious mind. Through its website, mobile apps for all smart devices, and a strong presence in social media, DreamsCloud delivers entertaining and informative content, tools and resources, and a community where users can interact and explore dream meanings.

You were born to move. Ergo Depot’s hand selected line of height adjustable desks and ergonomic seating encourages natural positions and movement. They empower people to function more efficiently, feel better, and live longer. Ergo Depot is evolving the way humans work.
Fluxtream is an open-source non-profit personal data visualization framework to help you make sense of your life and compare hypotheses about what affects your well-being. Using Fluxtream, you can bring together and explore physiological, contextual, and observational data from many devices and apps on a common timeline.
Since 1998, Gordon Bell has been working on the MyLifeBits project with Jim Gemmell – a quest to understand how you store everything in your life in cyberspace. After QS2012 he became a “trackee” of health data using CMU’s Bodytrack holding BodyMedia, Heartrate and other data.
LUMO BodyTech in on a mission to give the body a voice. They aim to bring good posture and movement back into our daily lives using the latest sensor and mobile technologies, starting with their first product LUMOback.
Dr. Mark Drangsholt is Professor and Chair of Oral Medicine at the University of Washington.  He is a passionate enthusiast and supporter of the QS movement.  His focus is on strengthening the bridge between academics and QS, and science and QS.
Mindful Cyborgs the audio present shock on mindfulness, cyborgs, contemplative computing, bio/lifehacking and unhacking, frictionless existence, quantified self netocracy, robotics and digital duality. Hosts, Wired, TechCrunch writer, founder of Technoccult Klint Finley and Global tech fluffer and data exhaust cartographer Chris Dancy.
Narrative (formerly Memoto) is a Swedish startup with the goal of giving everyone a photographic memory. Their tiny camera and GPS device with no controls clips on and takes photos as you go. The App organizes them. This all works together to give you pictures of every moment of your life, complete with information on when and where you took them.
Naveen Selvadurai is a Quantified Self enthusiast and an internet entrepreneur and co-founder of location-based social networking site, FourSquare. He worked previously at Socialight, Sony Music and Sun Microsystems.
OMsignal is developing a line of bio-sensing apparel that continuously tracks your biometrics. Embedded sensors in the apparel monitor your heart rate, breathing and activity while the OMsignal app displays your data in real-time on your mobile phone. OMsignal fits seamlessly into your everyday life. Technology woven into life.
Open mHealth envisions a world where disparate mobile health applications can be harnessed to deliver data-driven patient stories. Collaborating with a community of developers, clinicians, researchers, and business leaders, Open mHealth is a non-profit building an open software architecture that emphasizes modularity and reusability of digital health data.
Project Addapp is a platform created by two guys passionate about self-tracking. It allows users to pull data from multiple different tracking tools to create experiments to see, for example, how training affects sleep or how calorie intake affects workouts.
The Quantified Self Institute is an experimental collaboration between the Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Groningen, the Netherlands) and QS Labs to bridge the gap between science and the QS community. It is a network of QS users/makers, researchers, students, companies and other institutions that support the mission to encourage a healthy lifestyle through technology, science and fun.
Aware of the importance of data tracking in improving quality and way of life, reconti is developing a platform for logging measurements and analysis related to physical activity and health improvement. The aim is to identify connections and correlations between multiple results from a variety of sources. They also collaborate with other organizations in the mHealth community.
RescueTime is a Seattle-based company whose tools are used by more than 600,000 people worldwide to get an accurate picture of how they spend their time each day to help them be more productive. RescueTime is launching new consumer, business, and mobile offerings in Q3 2013.
Rock Health s powering the future of the digital health ecosystem, bringing together the brightest minds across disciplines to build better solutions. Rock Health funds and supports startups building the next generation of technologies transforming healthcare.
Sen.se has created an open platform (currently in beta) called Open.Sen.se for those who want to imagine, prototype and test new devices, installations, scenarios, and applications for this globally interconnected world.
Sensoplex is a one-stop developer & manufacturer of Wireless Sensor Modules and customized wearable devices to OEM’s focusing on the sports, fitness & wellness markets. SensoPlex’ expertise in motion sensors, wireless and design for manufacturing minimizes OEM’s risk, cost & time to market.
The Stir Kinetic Desk is an automated desk that seamlessly transitions between sitting and standing positions with a simple double tap.  It’s designed with the purpose to help promote an active lifestyle based on motion, health and inspiration.  The Stir Kinetic Desk learns your habits and adapts itself to your routine.
Many health conditions are correlated with the microbiome — from asthma to diabetes, autism to depression, irritable bowel, Crohn’s, heart disease, and more. uBiome gives the public access to cutting edge DNA sequencing technology. You can find out what’s in your microbiome, and how you correlate with others in our data set and with existing studies of the microbiome.
Ubisoft, a leader in entertainment software, is introducing O.zen, a motivational wellness training program.  O.zen uses a unique heart rate sensor to create a personalized coaching plan in order to help manage stress and increase your vitality through playful breathing exercises.
 ViviTouch® actuators, from Bayer MaterialScience LLC, produce a cinematic sensation that bridges the senses of seeing, hearing and feeling. ViviTouch® HD Feel is used in mobile, gaming, and wearable devices to bring high definition feel to entertainment and lifestyle experiences. ViviTouch® 4D Sound makes headphones come alive by amplifying the hearing experience.
VSP Global® is a group of leading companies, working together to meet and exceed the needs of eyecare professionals, clients, and it’s 60 million members. VSP wants to fully support the quantified self movement and it’s members who may want to be involved to find self-empowerment.
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Building Your Own QS Toys and Tools with Bluetooth 4.0

Let’s end the year with this fun, short video about building your own QS devices. Thank you to Mike and Lisa Winter for giving us a look at what’s possible, fresh from your amazing studio.

WE WISH YOU ALL A CREATIVE AND INSPIRING 2014!

Please join us in Amsterdam for our 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference on May 10 and 11th.

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Matthew Ames: One Small Step on a Scale

In this video from the Boston Quantified Self Show&Tell, Matthew Ames describes the self-tracking project that dramatically changed his weight and fitness. Beginning with simply measuring his weight daily using a Withings scale, he added together a number of common QS tools, including Weight WatchersRunkeeper, MyFitnessPalGarmin Forerunner watch, and the Nike+ system, to support his self-transformation.

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Introducing the Friends of QS

Ever since we started QS in 2008, the toolmakers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who create self-tracking instruments have been an active and essential part of our community. I know from working with many of them directly that they enjoy contributing and benefit a lot from our active and diverse community.

We recently started a program to invite QS Toolmakers to contribute directly to funding our events. We call this program Friends of QS. Contributions from our Friends enable us to produce our conferences, publish the Quantified Self blog, and coordinate our growing network of volunteer leaders of QS Show&Tell meetups.

Our inaugural group of Friends includes individuals and companies whose work many members of the QS community will recognize. We’re really proud to announce their participation. Thank you, Friends of QS, for helping grow the QS movement.

If you would like to participate we invite you email our Development Director, Kate Farnady, to learn more.

Our 2013 Friends of QS include:

Beeminder is a goal-tracking tool with teeth. Connect a QS gadget or app (Fitbit, RescueTime, etc) and Beeminder plots your progress towards your goal on a Yellow Brick Road. Stay on track and Beeminder is free. Go off the road and you (literally) pay the price.
Calit2 is a multidisciplinary research institution jointly run by UCSD and UCI devoted to conducting cutting-edge research discovering new ways that emerging technologies can improve the state’s economy and citizens’ quality of life.
Douglass Winthrop is an SEC registered investment advisor with offices in New York and San Francisco. The firm manages $1 billion for individuals, families, trusts, and endowments. Douglass Winthrop is owned and managed by its principals.
You were born to move. Ergo Depot’s hand selected line of height adjustable desks and ergonomic seating encourages natural positions and movement. They empower people to function more efficiently, feel better, and live longer. Ergo Depot is evolving the way humans work.
Since 1998, Gordon Bell has been working on the MyLifeBits project with Jim Gemmell – a quest to understand how you store everything in your life in cyberspace. After QS2012 he became a “trackee” of health data using CMU’s Bodytrack holding BodyMedia, Heartrate and other data.
LUMO BodyTech in on a mission to give the body a voice. They aim to bring good posture and movement back into our daily lives using the latest sensor and mobile technologies, starting with their first product LUMOback.
Naveen Selvadurai is a Quantified Self enthusiast and an internet entrepreneur and co-founder of location-based social networking site, FourSquare. He worked previously at Socialight, Sony Music and Sun Microsystems.
Open mHealth envisions a world where disparate mobile health applications can be harnessed to deliver data-driven patient stories. Collaborating with a community of developers, clinicians, researchers, and business leaders, Open mHealth is a non-profit building an open software architecture that emphasizes modularity and reusability of digital health data.
Project Addapp is a platform created by two guys passionate about self-tracking. It allows users to pull data from multiple different tracking tools to create experiments to see, for example, how training affects sleep or how calorie intake affects workouts.
RescueTime is a Seattle-based company whose tools are used by more than 600,000 people worldwide to get an accurate picture of how they spend their time each day to help them be more productive. RescueTime is launching new consumer, business, and mobile offerings in Q3 2013.
Rock Health is powering the future of the digital health ecosystem, bringing together the brightest minds in health and technology to build better solutions. Rock Health supports digital health entrepreneurs through a startup accelerator, public events, and open-source research.
Sen.se has created an open platform (currently in beta) called Open.Sen.se for those who want to imagine, prototype and test new devices, installations, scenarios, and applications for this globally interconnected world.
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