Tag Archives: design

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

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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.

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Temple of Self: A QS Masters Design Thesis

Aarti Vashisht has done some interesting QS-related work for her MFA at Art Center College Design.

She designed some prototype sensors that could be worn on our bodies in the future, and interviewed people to learn their thoughts on how these integrated sensors might impact their lives.

This is an image of the sensors she designed, to be worn across the shoulders and on the wrist, among other places. Take a look at her report here, called Temple of Self.

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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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Randy Sargent on Tomatoes and Irritability

Randy Sargent has an hypothesis that eating certain foods, like tomatoes, makes him irritable and anxious. He asked himself, “How can I structure an experiment on myself so that I don’t know whether I’m eating tomatoes or not?” and “How would I go about quantifying my irritability?” In the video below, he explores ways to go about designing the experiment, with some fun input from the audience. (Filmed by the Pittsburgh QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Randy Sargent – Discussing experimental design from Quantified Self Pittsburgh on Vimeo.

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Announcing: the Quantified Self Forum

By popular request, we have just launched a global QS forum at: http://forum.quantifiedself.com/

Gary, Dan Dascalescu, and I took some exciting topics from the conference and turned them into forum discussions, with expert moderators to help explore ideas and answer questions. You’ll find discussions on:

- Apps & Tools, moderated by Dan Dascalescu

Data Ownership & Privacy, moderated by Ryan Calo

Design, moderated by Steve Dean

Habit Change, moderated by Ernesto Ramirez and Gary Isaac Wolf

Fitness, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Dan Dascalescu

Learning & Cognition, moderated by Nick Winter

Medical tests, moderated by Dave Asprey

Mood, moderated by Margie Morris

Nutrition, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Dan Dascalescu

Sleep, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Gary Isaac Wolf

Self Experimentation, moderated by Seth Roberts

QS Startups, moderated by Eri Gentry and Ernesto Ramirez

QS Research & Media, moderated by Rajiv Mehta

QS Open Forum for any Quantified Self topic not covered above, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Gary Isaac Wolf

Please join in the conversations, ask questions, share what you’ve learned, and come play with us!

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User Generated Health

This is a guest post from QS regular Chris Hogg. Thanks Chris!

Last week I had the great opportunity to see a series of demos of Lifelogging apps from students from Stanford’s CS247 Computer Human Interaction Design Studio.  I would really recommend checking out the demos here.  These are some great creative minds and future QSers (I hope).  It was pretty incredible to see what they were able to build in just 4-6 weeks.

Embedded below are slides from a guest lecture I gave to this class a few weeks ago entitled “User Generated Health”.  The theme of this talk was the value of user-generated data and its ability to reconnect us to our bodies and our health.  Those of you who have seen Gary Wolf’s TED talk will recognize that I completely ripped off his intro (flattery, right?), but i thought it was a really engaging way to ask the question of why we know more data about our cars than our bodies.  In the talk I also touch on a few companies who are proving that new data can be more valuable than a new drug, that Citizen Scientists have the power to disrupt the current clinical trial system and that the ultimate goal of personal data collection is self knowledge.

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Stanford Students Design for Lifelogging

Next Monday, Stanford students will show off their designs around lifelogging and mobile sensing. Here is the announcement from Jeff Heer, Stanford professor and Quantified Self advisory board member:

We’re having an action-packed year in the Stanford HCI program — in addition to celebrating the program’s 20th anniversary, we’re presenting a number of exciting new research projects at CHI 2011 and HCI courses are hitting record enrollments. Check out http://hci.stanford.edu for the latest.

Continuing the tradition, on Monday 3/14, 15 student teams in CS247 HCI Design Studio will be presenting their design explorations around the theme of “Lifelogging: mobile and online sensing for public or private good”. Come experience a variety of applications seeking to enhance our everyday lives – and meet top graduating students passionate about interaction design.

We will begin with food and socializing at 6pm at the d.school; short student presentations will commence promptly at 6:30pm, followed by a demo & poster session.

For more information and directions, visit:

Hope to see you there!
Jeff & the CS247 Staff

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Matt Cottam on Designing QS Projects

From the Amsterdam QS Show&Tell group: Matt Cottam talks about many of the cool personal informatics and biosensing projects designed by his company, Tellart. Some prototype projects include creative ways to encourage people to take breaks at work, remote teddy bears to connect the elderly with their families, a breath alcohol sensor for the iPhone, and online gaming to combat childhood obesity. Matt has expertise in industrial, experience, and web design, with a detour in emergency medicine. Watch the video below to hear see a whirlwind tour of his inspiring projects over the past few years.

Matt Cottam – Designing QS projects from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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Robert Rabinovitz on Mapping the Design Process of a Brain Seizure

From the New York QS Show&Tell group: Robert Rabinovitz, a design teacher at the Parsons New School of Design and a designer himself, mapped the 40-minute period on January 19, 2007 when he experienced his first brain seizure. He takes us through his gripping story, moment by moment, with images of what he saw that day. Robert is also writing a play, writing a research report and planning a film about his experience of survival. Watch the video below to see how the design process saved his life.

Robert Rabinovitz – Mapping the Design Process of a Brain Seizure from Steve Dean on Vimeo.

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