What We Are Reading

Have you registered for our 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference? If not, this weekend is your last chance to take advantage of our special early bird rate (€149!). We’d love to see you there so register today!

Our friends at Oura are currently crowdfunding their amazing heart rate, sleep, and activity tracking ring. Check out their Kickstarter to learn more.

Now, on with the show!

You may just have updated the map with your RunKeeper route by Alex Barth. Short post here describing a fascinating use of publicly available data from Runkeeper users around the world.

A Six Month Update on How We’ve Been Using Data, and How it Benefits All Americans by DJ Patil. A nice update on some of the current initiatives being championed at the federal level to make data more available and beneficial for all Americans. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Discovering Google Maps New Location History Features by Mark Krynsky. Mark walks us through the new features embedded within Google Maps and Location tracking. Want to find out where you spend most of your time or how often you visit your favorite coffee shop? Google may already know!

Drowning in Data, Cities Need Help by William Fulton.

No city government, university or consulting firm can possibly figure out how best to use all the data we now have. The future lies in having everybody who understands how to manipulate data — from sophisticated engineering professors to smart kids in poor neighborhoods — mess around with it in order to come up with useful solutions.

Just Talking with Maggie Delano by Christopher Snider. Take a listen to a great conversation with our friend and QS Boston and QSXX organizer, Maggie Delano. Well worth your time.


1112195 HRV Measurements: Paced Breathing by Marco Altini. Marco is back at it again with a in-depth post about his experiments on how breathing rate affects HRV and heart rate measurements. Starting with a great review of the current literature, he then dives in to his own data and what he’s found through various experimental protocols.


tumblr_inline_n4fxiifr6T1r6gaqp Resuming Quantified Self Practices by Emily Chambliss. A short post here on using Excel to track and understand food consumption. Make sure to check out the slides from a talk she gave in 2012 at a New York QS Meetup.


9aXr5Mm My Sleep Quality of the last 2 Years by Reddit user Splitlimes. A beautiful visualization of just over two years of sleep data tracked with the Sleep Cycle app.


3 - nqfnVD8 Time-histogram of 10 Million Key Strokes by Reddit user osmotischen.

These are plots of 10 million key strokes and about 2.4 million mouse clicks logged over a bit more than a year’s time on my computer. (Make sure to click through for more visualizations.)


From the Forum
Descriptives and visualizations for large numbers of variables
I created this site to make decisions better with an algorithm. I’d love feedback!
HRV apps for Polar H7 that include SDNN

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QSEU15 Preview: Morris Villarroel on Slowing Time with a Lifelog

Morris Villarroel at QS14

The 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference will commence in less than four weeks, bringing together the QS community to share what they’ve been learning with personal data.

Anyone who engages in any sort of self-tracking discovers that the data collected is not a mere recording of some aspect of your life. Rather, engaging with and reflecting on that data can change the way that you relate to an aspect of yourself. Something as simple as getting on a scale each morning can change the way you think about weight. Morris Villarroel has discovered a novel way that this relationship can develop. At this year’s conference, Morris will talk about how using a Narrative camera to keep a visual record of his days, along with detailed notes, has changed his subjective experience of time, “bringing it closer to the present.”

I experienced something similar when I used a spaced repetition system to memorize entries from my daybook. Frequently recalling recent events kept the past distinct and novel. When a month passed, it no longer seemed like a blur, but a container filled with distinct experiences that differentiated itself from any other month.

You can find out more about how Morris gleans value from his lifelog at the 2015 QS Europe Conference. In addition to his show&tell talk, Morris will be leading a breakout discussion on how we can learn more from our lifelogs. We invite you to join us in Amsterdam on September 18th & 19th for two full days of talks, breakout discussions, and working sessions! Early bird tickets are still on sale. Register today for only €149!

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QSEU15 Preview: Ellis Bartholomeus on Doodling Mood


In just four short weeks we’ll be kicking off the 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference, and we are so excited to hear from old friends, learn from new members, and interact with some wonderful toolmakers. It’s going to be a great time.

As you may know, we build our conference programs from the ground up with attendees submitting their projects and ideas when they register. It’s always fun to read about someone’s new self-tracking project or experiment, especially when it involves something we haven’t seen before. Today we’re going to begin our conference previews with one of those novel and interesting talks.



Ellis Bartholomeus is no stranger to our QS Conferences, having given an excellent talk on using photos for food tracking at our 2013 Europe Conference. At this year’s conference Ellis will be sharing her experience with a very interesting type of mood tracking. For six months Ellis tracked her mood by drawing a face every day. This simple act of using a quick doodle to track how she was feeling led to some unexpected benefits:


This inspired and engaged me more than expected with other quantifications. The faces triggered my curiosity and provided many insights, which continue to motivate me.

Mood tracking is something that continues to intrigue our community. Understanding our happiness, what affects our mental state, and how to improve our moods is a common theme at meetups around the world. We’re interested to learn more from Ellis and her experiences at the 2015 QS Europe Conference. If you’re tracking your mood we invite you to join us in Amsterdam on September 18th & 19th for two full days talks, breakout discussions, and working sessions! Early bird tickets are still on sale. Register today for only €149!

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Oura Ring on Kickstarter: Sleep and Activity Tracking On A Finger


I first got a look at the Oura ring at the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium last May. I was surprised that the Oura engineers had managed to get sleep and activity tracking into  a bit of jewelry the size of a ring, and ever since I’ve been deeply curious to experiment for myself. Although a few samples showed up at QS15, there was nothing we can could take home with us. But the Oura ring campaign on Kickstarter launches today, with delivery estimated for November 2015. The company is a QS sponsor, and they’re offering readers here and our followers on Twitter a few hours head start on the campaign’s very limited number of $199 rings. (They have just 500 0f these, after which the minimum pledge to get a ring rises to $229).

The Oura ring has both optical sensors and an accelerometer, an increasingly common duo, used in the Apple watch and quite a few other devices. But I thought that the combination of sensors and battery demands would make a ring-size sleep and activity sensor challenging.

Of particular interest to me is the offer of “laboratory accurate” measurement of heart rate variability, or HRV, using the optical pulse sensor. Heart rate variability is the the variation in the time between heart rates, and it’s useful for Quantified Self experiments involving measurement of emotional arousal and stress. HRV is relatively easy to get, if you have an accurate heart rate monitor, but typically these have taken the form of elastic chest straps. Even Apple, with its relatively capacious watch, doesn’t yet promise accurate measurement of HRV. If the Oura ring ends up offering accurate HRV in a ring that is easy to keep on at all times, it will spark a lot of very interesting new projects.

Thank you to Petteri Lahtela and Hannu Kinnunen, the Oura founders, for giving us a few hours head start. We wish you good luck on your campaign!

For early access use this link: Quantified Self Access to Oura Kickstarter.

Note: both Petteri and Hannu will be at Quantified Self Europe conference in Amsterdam on September 18 & 19.

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Meetups This Week

We have two great Quantified Self meetups occurring this week. St. Louis will have talks on crowdsourcing clinical research and tracking for athletic performance. After Austin‘s show&tell talk on using eeg’s to improve everyday performance, they will have a roundtable discussion.

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

Monday, August 17
Austin, Texas

Tuesday, August 18
St. Louis, Missouri


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What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

When ‘Special Measures’ Become Ordinary by David Beer. What does it mean to have measurement, personal and institutional, as part of our everyday experience? A nice article that begins to expose what it means to operate in this new world.

Building smarter wearables for healthcare, Part 1: Examining how healthcare can benefit from wearables and cognitive computing by Robi Sen. In this article, Robi Sen describes what IBM sees as the “analytics gap” in current wearable technology. Specifically, that devices and the data they present don’t fully understand and utilize contextual information, and therefore are not providing meaningful information. What’s the answer? IBM’s Watson, of course.

Doping scandals, open data, and the emergence of the quantified athlete by Glyn Moody. A short and interesting piece that wonders if opening up athlete performance data might be a useful part of combating doping and illegal performance enhancement in professional athletics.

N of 1 Trials and Personal Health Data with Dr. Nicholas Schork. The Health Data Exploration Network hosted their inaugural webinar this past Friday. The focus was on N of 1 trials: why they’re important, how to conduct them, and the role of Quantified Self and self-tracking data.

Lifelog: Pilot Tasks of NTCIR–12. Our good friend and lifelogging researcher, Cathal Gurrin, is spearheading an innovative project to improve search and information access to lifelogging and self-tracking data. If you’re a researcher or information systems specialist you may want to take a look at data and see if you can help push the field forward!

sleepwalking_beddit Sleepwalking. Rather than point to one post over another we’re going to highlight this entire blog by one anonymous scientist who’s exploring his sleepwalking. The whole blog is chock full of insights into measurements, devices, and experiments to see what may or may not affect their sleepwalking. Start here to get a good overview.

How I Hacked Amazon’s $5 WiFi Button to track Baby Data by Ted Benson. Have $5 to spend on an Amazon Dash button? With a little bit of programming you can turn it into your own DIY internet-connected tracker!

FullSizeRender-1 10,000 Steps at a Music Festival by Tim Hanrahan. A fun post about tracking physical activity at the Lollapalooza festival.


vjo_2015-Aug-13 Basis Data Analysis by Victor Jolissaint. I saw this Victor tweet this visualization and was immediately drawn in. Turns out he’s been exploring ways to analyze and understand his Basis watch data using R. Check out the link for his code and take a crack at analyzing your own data!

My-Steps_thumb Tableau: Helping Me See and Understand Myselfb y Craig Bloodworth. Craig pulled all his self-tracking data into Tableau and designed his own personal dashboard to better understand what was going on with his activity, personal finances, and other lifestyle information.

From the Forum
How to acquire info about sent e-mails using gmail?
How to quantify myself
We want to track you!


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2015 QS Visualization Gallery: Round 4

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 1Part 2, and Part 3 as well!

daily habits Name: Damien Catani
Description: This is an overview of how I have been doing today against my daily habit targets. Yes, I had a good sleep!
Tools: I used a website I’ve been building for the purpose of setting and tracking all goals in life: goalmap.com


tock_b_tock_goal_page Name: Bethany Soule
Description: This is my pomodoro graph. I average four 45 minute pomodoros per day on my work, and I track them here. This is where most of my productivity occurs! There’s some give and take.
Tools: The graph is generated by Beeminder. I use a script I wrote to time my pomodoros and submit them to Beeminder when I complete them. The script also announces them in our developer chat room, so there’s also some public accountability there as well.



qs1 Name: Steven Zhang
Description: This plot shows the time I first go to sleep, against quality of day (a subjective metric I plot at the end of every day). What this tells me is that if I get a full night’s sleep of 8 hours, for every hour I got to bed, I can expect a .16 decrease in my QoD rating, which, given my range of QoD around 2 to 4, is about a 5% decrease in quality of day.
Tools: Sleep as Android to track sleep and some python scripts for ETL.


qs2Name:Steven Zhang
Description: Log of all my sleep for the last 6 months, labeled by the types of sleep I most often encounter

  1.  Normal sleep
  2. Napping
  3. 3. Trying to achieve normal sleep, but failing to

Tools: Tableau for visualization. Sleep as Android for logging sleep.


Name: Eric Jain
Description: Benford’s Law states that the most significant digits of numbers tend to follow a specific distribution, with “1″ being the most common digit, followed by “2″ etc. But my daily step counts show a slightly different distribution: The fall-off from “1″ to “2″ is larger than expected, and the frequency of digits larger than “5″ increases rather than decreases. Is this pattern typical for step counts? Could suspicious distributions be used to detect cheaters?
Tools: Fitbit, Zenobase, Tableau

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!

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QS15: A Review

QS15 Tweet Robot designed by The Living. Photo: Rajiv Mehta

QS15 Tweet Robot designed by The Living. Photo: Rajiv Mehta

In just little more than a month we’ll be convening in lovely Amsterdam for our 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference. While some might call us crazy since we just wrapped on our big QS15 Conference in San Francisco, we like to think that we’re on a tour, inviting people from around to world to engage and learn about the power of personal data.

With QSEU15 so close, we decided to take a quick look back at what makes our conferences so special. Rather than telling you what we think we thought it would be best to highlight the thoughts and writing from individuals who attended and participated in our 2015 Quantified Self Conference. We’ve gathered up links to articles, blog posts, and write-ups of all types and are posting them here for you to read and review.

If you’re intrigued by the ideas and events described in the links below make sure to register for QSEU15. Early Bird tickets are on sale for just a bit longer so take advantage now!

Training the Next Generation of ‘Quantified Nurses’

Quantified Self ’15 (Day 1 Recap)

Quantified Self ’15 (Day 2 Recap)

What’s a Self Anyway?

Compass Alpha at the Quantified Self Conference 2015!

Quantified Self Expo, Part I

Quantified Self Expo, Part II 

About the Quantified Self Conference and Expo

Own your Biological Machine

Quantified Self 2015

Architecting health data for the cloud

What you can learn from the 2015 Quantified-Self conference

QS15: Measurement with Meaning

More About Me at QS15

What I learned at Quantified Self 2015

Notes from the 2015 Quantified Self Conference

My Data, Your Data, Our Data

News from the Quantified Self movement

Quantified Self Labs

Some of the Best from the 2015 Quantified Self Conference

Personal Gold @ Quantified Self ’15

Learning about new self-tracking technology at QS15

If you wrote something about your experience at QS15 let us know! We’d love to feature it.

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Meetups This Week

There will be three Quantified Self meetups this week. Zürich will have a toolmaker talk from Boonea on taking a quantified approach to relationships and personal networks.

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

Tuesday, August 11
Lansing, Michigan
Zürich, Switzerland

Saturday, August 15
Denton, Texas

Meetups Last Week
Here are some images from Berlin‘s great meetup last week. If you organize a QS meetup, please post pictures of your event to the Meetup website. We love seeing them.

600_440630891 600_440630887 600_440630890 600_440630897 600_440630896
photos courtesy of Johannes Breyer


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What We Are Reading

We’re back again with another round of What We’re Reading. Before diving into the great articles and links below why not take some time to subscribe to our QS Radio podcast! We just released our fourth episode and would love to know what you think!

Want to tell us in person? Why not join us for our fourth QS Europe Conference this September in Amsterdam! Register now to take advantage of our early bird pricing.

Got Sleep Problems? Try Tracking Your Rest with Radar. by Rachel Metz. Researchers at Cornell University, the University of Washington and Michigan state are conducting research using off the shelf components to see if non-contact sleep tracking is possible. Turns out it is!

Apple’s Fitness Guru Opens Up About the Watch by Scott Rosenfield. A nice interview with Jay Blahnik here, where he speaks to Apple’s focus on self-tracking and fitness with the Apple Watch.

To share is human by Laura DeFrancesco. In this great news feature, Laura DeFrancesco exposes some of the issues with sharing personal data, as well as the initiatives hoping to break through those issues to help bring more data into the public sphere.

Using Twitter data to study the world’s health by Elaine Reddy. A great post here profiling John Brownstein and his work in Computational Epidemiology, specifically how he and his research team use public data sources like Twitter to tease out signals for health research.


Charts.001 Comparing Step Counts: Apple Watch, Fitbit Charge HR, And IOS Withings App by Victor Lee. An awesome and in-depth post comparing almost two months of steps counts from three different tracking methods by our friend Victor Lee. Glad to see he put our QS Access app to good use!

Follow-up to how I lost over 40 pounds using HealthKit and Apple Watch by Jim Dalrymple. Jim tells his story of how using a variety of apps and tools, all linked to his Apple Healthkit app, helped him learn about himself and eventually put him on the path to sustained weight loss.

Tracking Confidence by Buster Benson. Buster always has something interesting to say about self-tracking. This time is no different. Here he briefly talks about asking himself, “how confident do I feel right now?”


The Heart Chamber Orchestra.

The Heart Chamber Orchestra – HCO – is an audiovisual performance. The orchestra consists of 12 classical musicians and the artist duo TERMINALBEACH. Using their heartbeats, the musicians control a computer composition and visualization environment. The musical score is generated in real time by the heartbeats of the musicians. They read and play this score from a computer screen placed in front of them.

From the Forum
How to acquire info about sent e-mails using gmail?
Looking for Android exercise tracking app
Resting Heart Rate tracking

This Week on QuantifiedSelf.com
QS Radio: Episode #4

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