Topic Archives: Conference

Visualizing Our Quantified Self

At our 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference we were excited to share a variety of beautiful and insightful data visualizations from our community. In the months leading up to the conference we asked attendees to send in their own personal data visualizations along with a short description. In our 6 years of hosting Quantified Self meetups and events, as well as running this website, our forum, and social channels, we’ve seen the power of data visualization as a story telling medium. We exist in part to help people tell their stories – about the data they collect, the changes they create, and the insights and new knowledge they’re excited to share.

Today we’re sharing a few of our favorite visualizations from past conferences. The images and descriptions below represent a wide a variety of tracking experiences and techniques, and we hope to showcase eve more unique personal data projects at our upcoming QS15 Conference & Exposition.

Tracking Sleep by Anita Lillie

This is concatenation of screenshots from my sleep app. Most sleep apps don’t let you zoom out like this and still see daily/nightly detail, so I just made it myself. I like that it shows how almost-consistent I am with my sleep, and made me ask new questions about the “shape” of a night of sleep for me.



2.5 Years of My Weight by Mette Dyhrberg

I gained a lot of insights from this heat map. The most obvious weight gain was no surprise — that’s when I periodically don’t track. In any case, the big picture patterns are easily identified with a heat map. Realized looking at this heat map that the point of no return was mid-April 2012 — my data shows that was when I switched protein shakes with an egg based breakfast. I have since experimented and seen that protein shake in the morning seems to keep my blood sugar more stable and as a result my weight under control!



One Month of Blood Sugar by Doug Kanter

This is a visualization of one month of my blood sugar readings from October 2012. I see that my control was generally good, with high blood sugars happening most often around midnight (at the top of the circle).



Tracking Productivity by Nick Winter

My percentile feedback graph of my development productivity helps my motivation.



Six Months of My Life by David El Achkar

This is my life during the past six months. Each square = 15 minutes. Each column = 1 day. This picture represents 138 days or 3,000+ activities.



My Thesis Self Portrait by Sara M. Watson

Here’s a period of a few days of webcam images taken using Stan James’ LifeSlice during the final days of editing my thesis on Quantified Self uses of personal data. Serious business!



Sleep and Meaningful Work by Robby Macdonell

In an average work day, I don’t consider communication (email, instant message, etc) to be terribly meaningful work. I’d much rather be working on building software. Getting more sleep the night before increases the amount of meaningful work I’m likely to do in a day.



70 Days of Pulse by Laurie Frick

Pulse rate over 24 hours for 70 days from my Basis watch. Grey=null, blues=85

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Kouris Kalligas: Analyzing My Weight and Sleep

Like anyone who has ever been bombarded with magazine headlines in a grocery store checkout line, Kouris Kalligas had a few assumptions about how to reduce his weight and improve his sleep. Instead of taking someone’s word for it, he looked to his own data to see if these assumptions were true. After building up months of data from his wireless scale, diet tracking application, activity tracking devices, and sleep app he spent time inputing that data into Excel to find out if there were any significant correlations. What he found out was surprising and eye-opening.

This video is a great example of ouse expert user-driven program at our Quantified Self Conferences. If you’re interest in tell your own self-tracking story, or want to hear real examples of how people use data in their lives we invite you to register for the QS15 Conference & Exposition.

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What is a Quantified Self Conference?

If you’ve seen the announcement for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo and you’ve never been to a QS event before you may be asking yourself what our conferences are all about. From our very first meetup in 2008 through our six conferences and numerous events we’ve emphasized the role of the personal story and real-world experience. We do this in a variety of ways.

First, we run our conferences as a carefully curated unconference. When you register, you’re asked to tell us about the self-tracking projects you’re working on and other QS-related ideas you have. Our conference organization team goes through every registration, diving deep into personal websites, Twitter feeds, and blog posts. We love seeing individuals using self-tracking in new and different ways to find out something interesting about themselves and we work hard to surface truly unique and inspiring stories.

How does that manifest itself in the program? The core of our conference program is made up of the nearly two dozen show&tell talks where self-trackers get up and tell their story by answering our three prime questions: What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn? It may seem simple, but these three questions provide a stable and consistent narrative to inspire you to learn and engage with your own tracking practice in new and different ways.

We’ve spent some time combing through our vast video archive to showcase some of our favorite talks from our previous conferences. We hope you find them enjoyable and they inspire you to join us on March 13-15 in San Francisco for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on stage and we’ll be learning from you!

Sara Riggare on ‘How Not To Fall’
Sara Riggare is co-organizer of Quantified Self Stockholm. She is also an engineer, a PhD student and a tireless researcher of Parkinson’s disease. In this fascinating talk, Sara describes using body sensors to help her control her gait.

Vivian Ming on Tracking Her Son’s Diabetes
Vivienne Ming is an accomplished neuroscientist and entrepreneur. Two years ago her son, Felix, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, Vivienne explains what they’re learning as they track and analyze his data

Chris Bartley on Understanding Chronic Fatigue
While on a research trip, Chris contracted Reiter’s Syndrome. After his recovered, something still didn’t feel right. Chris consulted his physician and started tracking his wellness along with his diet and supplement intake. What follows is an amazing story about what Chris learned when he started applying his knowledge of statistics to his own data.

Adrienne Andrew Slaughter on Tracking Carbs and Exercise
Adrienne Andrew Slaughter was testing out a new diet that included carbohydrate restriction. At the same time she was commuting to work on a bike. She started to notice feeling tired and slow during her commutes and wondered if her dietary changes had anything to do with it. Luckily, Adrienne was tracking her commutes and her diet and was able to run detailed data analysis to find out what happens when she goes carbless.

Bob Troia: Understanding My Blood Glucose
Bob Troia isn’t a diabetic and he’s not out of range, but he wanted to see if he could lower his fasting glucose levels. He started a long-term tracking experiment where he tested his blood glucose and began to explore the effects of supplementation and lifestyle factors.

Sacha Chua on Building and Using A Personal Dashboard
Sacha Chua started tracking her clothes to make sure she was varying her wardrobe on daily basis. This led he to ask, “What else can I track?” As she added time tracking, food, library books, and so much more (you can view the whole set on QuantifiedAwesome.com)

Robby Macdonnell on Tracking 8,000 Screen Hours
For the last six years Robby Macdonnell has been tracking his productivity and how he spends his time on his various computers (home and work) and even how he uses phone. Over those years he’s amassed 8,300 hours of screen time. Watch his great talk to hear what’s he learned about his work habits, productivity and how he’s come to think about time.

Sky Christopherson on Self-Tracking at the London Olympics
Sky Christopherson first shared his experience with tracking and improving his sleep in 2012. That tracking led him on a path to achieving a world record as a mastars level track cyclists. Later that year, Sky began helping other athletes us self-tracking and personal data to obtain their best performances, culminating in a surprise silver medal for the 2012 women’s olympic track cycling team, on which he served as a training advisor. In March of this year, Sky and his wife Tamara gave another QS talk at our Bay Area Meetup in which they told the wonderful story of how the 2012 Olympic team rode to their medal, a journey captured in the documentary, Personal Gold.

These are only a small sample of the amazing talks and self-tracking projects that are shared at our Quantified Self Conferences. We’d love to hear your story. Register today and let us know what you’re working on!

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Announcing QS15: The Quantified Self Conference & Exposition

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March 13-15, 2015 – San Francisco

Seven years ago, about 30 people gathered for the first Quantified Self show&tell in Pacifica, California. Today there are more than 110 independent Quantified Self groups in more than 30 countries around the world. (Our Bay Area group alone has nearly 4000 members.) Nearly everywhere you go you can find people counting their steps, recording their meals, tracking their location, and using data to learn about themselves.

We believe there is still much work ahead, but in celebration of the growth of the QS movement, and in honor of the pioneering self-trackers and toolmakers who have contributed so much to the QS community, we’ve decided to hold a very special event next year. To our regular two-day global conference we are adding a third day for a GRAND PUBLIC EXPOSITION in San Francisco’s most beautiful waterfront pavilion, where toolmakers, artists, designers, pioneering self-trackers will be sharing their amazing work with the general public.

On Friday and Saturday, March 13/14, we’ll have our QS global conference, with working sessions, show&tell talks, office hours, and face-to-face collaboration, all handcrafted out of personal interaction with registrants. And then, on Sunday March 15, we open the doors of the Herbst Festival Pavilion to the general public, so that self-trackers and toolmakers can share their projects and knowledge with everybody.

If you are a self-tracker, advanced user, designer, tech inventor, entrepreneur, journalist, scientist, health professional, or just interested in Quantified Self, please join us for a weekend of  learning, collaboration and inspiration. As always, conference registrations will sell out in advance, so please sign up right away if you intend to come.

Our small QS Labs team has been working for more than year to bring a Conference and Exposition to the San Francisco waterfront, and we couldn’t be happier to finally be able to invite you. Let us know what you think. We hope to see you there!

 REGISTER FOR QS15

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Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower

When we decide to track one thing, we sometimes find that we are indirectly tracking something else.  That is the theme of today’s talk.

When Mark Leavitt was 57, he found out that he had heart disease, a condition that runs in his family. Mark set about making some life changes. He tracked his weight while adopting a low-fat diet. His tracking showed him that he was making progress and that progress encouraged him to keep tracking. But once Mark’s weight loss stalled and then started to backslide (though he had maintained his diet) his desire to track dwindled and was then snuffed out by a major life event.

Though he was ostensibly tracking weight, this experience gave him some insight into his motivation. He began to build a mental model of his willpower. When was it strong? When was it weak? Using his background as a doctor to make assumptions on the nature of his willpower, he used the tracking of other lifestyle changes, such as movement and strength-training, to test those assumptions and better understand how to follow through on his intentions.

Watch below to see what Mark found worked for him and if you would like to see how Mark’s keeping up with his habits, you can check out his live dashboard here.

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Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog

One of the benefits of long-term self-tracking is that one builds up a toolbox of investigatory methods that can be drawn upon when medical adversity hits. One year ago, when Mark Drangsholt experienced brain fog during a research retreat while on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, he had to draw upon the self-tracking tools at his disposal to figure out what was behind this troubling symptom.

Watch this invaluable talk on how Mark was able to combine his self-tracking investigation with his medical treatments to significantly improve his neurocognitive condition.

Here is Mark’s description of his talk:

What did you do?
I identified that I had neurocognitive (brain) abnormalities – which decreased my memory function (less recall) – and verified it with a neuropsychologist’s extensive tests.  I tried several trials of supplements with only slight improvement.  I searched for possible causes which included being an APOE-4 gene carrier and having past bouts of atrial fibrillation.

How did you do it?
Through daily, weekly and monthly tracking of many variables including body weight, percent body fat, physical activity, Total, HDL, LDL cholesterol, depression, etc.   I created global indices of neurocognitive function and reconstructed global neurocog function using a daily schedule and electronic diary with notes, recall of days and events of decreased memory function, academic and clinical work output, etc.  I asked for a referral to a neuropsychologist and had 4 hours of comprehensive neurocog testing.   

What did you learn?
My hunch that I had developed some neurocognitive changes was verified by the neuropsychologist as “early white matter dysfunction”.  A brain MRI showed no abnormalities.  Trials of resveratrol supplements only helped slightly.   There were some waxing and waning of symptoms, worsened by lack of sleep and high negative stress while working.  A trial with a statin called, “Simvastatin” (10 mg) began to lessen the memory problems, and a dramatic improvement occurred after 2.5-3 weeks. Subsequent retesting 3 months later showed significant improvement in the category related to white matter dysfunction in the brain.  Eight months later, I am still doing well – perhaps even more improvement – in neurocog function.

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Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand

In 2013 Eric Boyd started using a Nike FuelBand to track his activity. Not satisfied with the built in reporting the mobile and web applications were delivering he decided to dive into the data by accessing the Nike developer API. By being able to access the minute-level daily data Eric was able to make sense of his daily patterns, explore abnormalities in his data, and learn a bit more about how the FuelBand calculated it’s core metrics. Watch Eric’s talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference to hear more about Eric’s experience.

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Sara Riggare: How Not to Fall

We’re always interested in the way individuals with chronic conditions use self-tracking to better understand themselves. A great example of this is our good friend, Sara Riggare. Sara has Parkinson’s Disease and we’ve featured some of her amazing self-tracking work here before. At the 2014 Quantified Self Conference, Sara gave a short talk on what she feels is her most troublesome symptom: freezing of gait. In this talk, she explains why it’s such a big part of her daily life and how she’s using new tools and techniques to track and improve her gait.

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Paul LaFontaine: We Never Fight on Wednesday

Paul LaFontaine was interested in understanding his anxiety and negative emotional states. What was causing them? When were they happening? What could he do to combat them? Using TapLog, a simple Android-based tracking app (with easy data export), Paul tracked these mental events for six months as well as the triggers associated with each one. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Paul dives deep in to the data to show how he was able to learn how different triggers were related to his anxiety and stress. While exploring his data, he also discovered a few surprising and profound insights. Watch his great talk below to learn more!

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Jenny Tillotson: Science, Smell, and Fasion

Jenny Tillotson is a researcher and fashion designer who is currently exploring how scent plays a role in emotion and psychological states. As someone living with bipolar disorder, she’s been acutely aware of what affects her own emotions states and has been exploring different methods to track them. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Jenny discusses her new project, Sensory Fashion, that uses wearable tracking technology and scent and sensory science to improve wellbeing. Be sure to read her description below when you finish watching her excellent talk.


You can also view the slides here.

What did you do?
I established a new QS project called ‘SENSORY FASHION’, funded by a Winston Churchill Fellowship that combines biology with wearable technology to benefit people with chronic mental health conditions. This allowed me to travel to the USA and meet leading psychiatrists, psychologists and mindfulness experts and find new ways to build monitoring tools that SENSE and balance the physiological, psychological and emotional states through the sense of smell. My objective was to manage stress and sleep disturbance using olfactory diagnostic biosensing tools and micro delivery systems that dispense aromas on-demand. The purpose was to tap into the limbic system (the emotional centre of our brain) with aromas that reduce sleep and stress triggers and therefore prevent a major relapse for people like myself who live with bipolar disorder on a day to day basis. I designed my own personalized mood-enhancing ‘aroma rainbow’ that dispenses a spectrum of wellbeing fragrances to complement orthodox medication regimes such as taking mood stabilizers.

How did you do it?
Initially by experimenting with different evidence-based essential oils with accessible clinical data, such as inhaling lavender to aid relaxation and help sleep, sweet orange to reduce anxiety and peppermint to stimulate the brain. I developed a technology platform called ‘eScent’ which is a wearable device that distributes scent directly into the immediate vicinity of the wearer upon a biometric sensed stimuli (body odor, ECG, cognitive response, skin conductivity etc). The scent forms a localized and personalized ‘scent bubble’ around the user which is unique to the invention, creating real-time biofeedback scent interventions. The result promotes sleep hygiene and can treat a range of mood disorders with counter-active calming aromas when high stress levels reach a pre-set threshold.

What did you learn?
I learnt it is possible to track emotional states through body smells, for example by detecting scent signals that are specific to individual humans. In my case this was body odor caused by chronic social anxiety from increased cortisol levels found in sweat and this could be treated with anxiolytic aromas such as sweet orange that create an immediate calming effect. In addition, building olfactory tools can boost self-confidence and communication skills, or identify ‘prodromal symptoms’ in mood disorders; they learn your typical patterns and act as a warning signal by monitoring minor cognitive shifts before the bigger shifts appear. This can easily be integrated into ‘Sensory Fashion’ and jewelry in a ‘de-stigmatizing’ manner, giving the user the prospect of attempting to offer them some further control of their emotional state through smell, whether by conscious control or bio-feedback. The next step is to miniaturize the eScent technology and further explore the untapped research data on the science of body (emotional) odor.

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