Gary Wolf

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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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Ashish Mukharji on Three Years of Tracking Happiness

In this wonderful talk from the Bay Area Quantified Self Show&Tell meeting, Ashish Mukharji, author of Run Barefoot, Run Healthy, describes doing three years of continuous happiness tracking, using a single number.

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My Fitness Pal Api Calls

This slide from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends slide deck (link is to full deck on Slideshare) puts some numbers around what we’ve been noticing among QS Toolmakers: everybody wants to talk APIs.My Fitness Pal Api calls

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What would you do with a free BodyMedia armband?

BodyMediaSensewearImage

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:

QS FORUM - What would you do with a free Bodymedia Sensewear Armband?

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Quantified Self in Medical Practice

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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.

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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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