Topic Archives: Lab Notes

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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Donate Your Spit for Science

Scanadu, a valued annual sponsor of the Quantified Self, invites you to donate your spit for science! Check out the announcement below to learn more.

Do you have a cough, fever, sore throat, achy muscles, and/or a runny nose?

If you do, you can help us better understand the biology of upper respiratory infections and/or the flu. Donating your spit may, down the line, help reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, help limit the spread of respiratory pathogens and contribute to the design of a new product.

Benefits of participating:

  • An opportunity to participate in science and help Scanadu
  • A $10 Amazon gift card
  •  Upon request, we will be happy to share your experimental results. It is understood that this is not an approved diagnostic test and results should not be used for medical diagnosis.

Who can participate?

  • Children 6+ years and adults (parent/guardian consent required for children under the age of 18)
  • Currently experiencing a common cold, sore throat or influenza
  • Currently living in the United States

How do I participate?

Click the following link for more information and to sign-up: http://bit.ly/1dQNk8n

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Need more information? 

For questions regarding participation in this study and the collection of saliva, please contact scanaflu@scanadu.com or info@scanadu.com

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A Quantified Self Festival: The Knight News Challenge

Earlier this summer we found out that the Knight Foundation was launching a challenge centered on funding “innovative ideas to harness information and data for the health of communities.” We decided that this would be a great opportunity to propose a program idea we’ve wanted to work on for a long time: A Quantified Self Civic Festival. The idea of the festival is that the highest value in personal data lies in its usefulness for self-discovery, both individually and in our communities.

Traditionally, research questions about health and wellness are addressed from the top down. Professionals choose which health measures are important, while citizens are seen mainly as sources of data and recipients of expert advice. We’d like to help turn this world upside down, inspiring individuals, families, and communities to define what they’d like to track, and why, while enlisting experts as servants to a broadly popular adventure in making knowledge. (A guiding principle of the festival would be that participants have maximum control over their own data.)

We’d love your feedback. You can comment here, but it would be very helpful if you commented on the challenge website. While you’re there, take a look at some of the other wonderful entries. There is a wealth of inspiration and we’re excited to see what comes out of this work.

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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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How Can We Get More Meaning Out of Our Data?

For about a year QS Labs has been working on a small scale project to learn how we can get more meaning out our personal data. The program involves small group discussions in which participants share data in advance, collaborate on visualization and analysis, and discuss the results. With a research grant from Intel, we’ve been able to schedule another round of these for the coming months. They are called ”QS Co-Labs.” The events take place online (over Google Hangout). If you’d like to participate, please let us know by filling out the survey below.

We’re focusing this round of QS Co-Labs on a few specific themes. If you’re using self-tracking tools, apps, web services, or devices to track any of the following we especially want to hear from you!

  • Sleep
  • Data Aggregation (e.g. Tictrac, Runkeeper, Fluxtream, etc.)
  • Physical Activity
  • Email (meta data)
  • Mood
  • Location

We can’t do this without the generous help of our community. We have some great data visualization experts and analysts who are helping us, but we can always use more. If you have visualization or analysis experience and want to participate, share your skills, and help others get meaning out of their data we would love to have you. Fill out our survey or let us know directly.

If this sounds interesting and you’d like to take part then please fill out our short survey so we can get to know you better.

Click here to fill out our Co-Lab survey 


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The QS World I Would Like to Live In

In the QS world I’d like to live in, our personal data would be easily available to us to learn from using many different methods and tools. Here are some conditions I think would make this easier:

  1. Data can be exported from the various systems we use into a simple format for exploration.
  2. We can store and backup our data using whatever method we want.
  3. We can share our data with whomever we want.
  4. We can rescind permission to look at our data.
  5. We can flow our data into diverse visualization templates and analytical systems.

I’ve tried to express these conditions briefly and simply, but any of them – and certainly all of them together – require changes in the systems we currently use, and these changes may be challenging for technical, business, social, and political reasons.

I know many people in our community have worked on parts of this problem, and I’m interested in your comments and ideas.

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The Quantified Self Community

QSConference2011Lawn

Photo of QS Conference by Apneet Jolly

If you’ve been reading our posts for a while you’ve most likely noticed that we typically reference the Quantified Self community. If you’re not familiar with our structure and how to get involved you might be asking yourself, ”How do I get involved with the QS community?”

Continue reading

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Quantified Self Around the World

So there I was the other day sitting in a coffee shop and perusing the various Quantified Self Meet Up groups around the world. I was blown away by the how many people are taking time out of their busy lives to host and attend meetups in their cities. As we’ve mentioned before, Quantified Self has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it is due to our enthusiastic community of experimenters, tool makers and learners. We now have 45 groups around the world sharing their experiences and knowledge! Take a look at the map below to get a glimpse of our worldwide community.


View Quantified Self Meetups in a larger map

If you’ve never been to Meet Up take a look at the map to find one in your area (links to Meet Up groups are included). Is there no group in your city? Well go right ahead and start one! We’ve compiled a great FAQ to get you started and on your way.

Did we miss your group? Add it to the map (it’s public and editable) or just post a comment and we’ll add it to our list.

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The State of Quantified Self: Another Year of Growth

As 2011 comes to a close, we wanted to post a snapshot of where Quantified Self is now and how we’ve grown in the past couple of years.

Thanks and congratulations everyone! We look forward to another amazing year of sharing data, stories, experiments, and friendship together.

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On Minimalism and Sustainability

Here is another peek behind-the-scenes at Quantified Self Labs, explaining how we work and why we have so much fun.

There are two basic principles we follow in a pretty hard-core way as we grow and nurture our community. They are tied tightly together, and make it really stress-free to do this QS work. These are minimalism and sustainability.

Contrary to common perception, minimalism is not about having and doing as little as possible of everything. It’s about having as much as you need of things you value, and not spending money on one thing extra. It’s only doing your highest value work that feels good and is needed, and not using up time on anything that’s not necessary or fun.

So for instance, we don’t have office space, because we’re happy working from home and libraries and coffee shops. That’s how I get my five miles of walking in every day, by having a coffee shop just far enough from my house that it gives me a good, regular workout. But we do have really good computers, because they’re our tools for making all this possible, and we need to work with the best tools (otherwise it’s a waste of time and productivity.)

Obviously, minimalism requires knowing what it is that you value, and learning how to recognize opportunities that fit your values. So for example, sitting on a conference call is neither enjoyable nor an effective way to get things done, compared to our other methods. We therefore say no to anything that requires us to participate in conference calls. But long one-on-one walks are both connecting and inspiring, so even if they’re not strictly necessary to get work done, we do them because we value them.

Does it seem too foolish to use conference calls as a filter for involvement in a project? Isn’t this letting a minor detail get in the way of bigger issues? Surprisingly, no. A request to submit to conference calls is a great clue that we won’t be able to use our best minimalist methods. We will have to substitute process for true organization, and waste precious time. Using simple assays like “no conference calls” to inspect opportunities for minimalism is itself a great tool of minimalism.

Minimalism is related to another principle that means a lot to us: sustainability. If you only spend time and money on essential things, and get really good at saying NO to everything else, you can keep your project going pretty much indefinitely.

All three of us here at QS labs: me, Gary, and Kevin, have watched many venture funded companies come and go over the years. We understand why people take this route, and we always root for people in our community to succeed with their startups. But for ourselves, we’ve decided that this method is not the best. A truism of the startup culture is that investors only expect one in ten of their companies to succeed. While it’s good that people have a chance to fail, and failure isn’t held against people who take risks, we don’t particularly want to fail. It hurts us to see friends rush headlong towards failure, afraid to be honest with themselves because of the burden of the financial obligations they’ve accrued. We’d like better odds for ourselves, and for our community members and collaborators.

One way to improve the odds is to be able to start small, take time, listen, experiment, and learn. Not taking any investment funding allows us to do this. We considered making QS Labs a nonprofit, but when we looked into it we found that even this approach involved more overhead (paperwork, board of directors, meetings) than we felt was necessary. In the end, we decided just to articulate our social vision and get to work.

Also, though it isn’t talked about very much, emotional sustainability is as important as financial sustainability. If you consistently do things you don’t like because you feel like they need to be done for some reason, you are likely to burn out. Why not think about other ways to get the same results, that are also enjoyable for you? For us, focusing on being gentle with ourselves and taking good care of our emotional and physical well-being is a priority. This has many good effects, including allowing us to imagine continuing to do this work for a long time.

I hope this inspires you to consider what you value in your work, and find ways to bring more of that into your daily routine in a simple, sustainable way.

(Thanks to lisbotk for the great photo!)

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