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QS Symposium on Pain and Innovation Challenge

Do you have a Quantified Self idea that can help ease the burden of pain?

On November 5th, 2015, we’re convening the first QS Symposium on Pain and Innovation Challenge on the campus of Singularity University at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. For this meeting, we’re trying  a new kind of innovation challenge, designed to advance your ideas for helping people who are dealing with acute and chronic pain. If you have an idea that can help people in pain, please join us for an intense and inspiring one day workshop with some of the world’s leading experts to advance your idea and connect with collaborators who can support its development, from prototyping to reaching the market.

At the end of the day, we’ll award a $10,000 cash prize to the idea that has most challenged and inspired us to look beyond what is already known about reducing the burden of pain.

We’re looking for ideas based on deep insight into the practical challenges faced by people dealing with acute and/or chronic pain, with a particular focus on tools that enhance self-awareness, self-efficacy, and empower people of all types to better understand themselves and live joyful lives. We welcome participation from all innovators interested in sensing, devices, apps, services, and social innovations.

This is a unique challenge, designed to unfold from start to finish over the course of a single day. Instead of competition, co-operation. Instead of obscure judgments made behind closed doors, an open conversation about what we are learning. Instead of long lead times and uncompensated design work, a short, intense, inspiring immersion among the makers of the most innovative tools of tracking and learning emerging from the Quantified Self movement today.

We are toolmakers, pain sufferers and clinical experts, united by a common intention to make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from pain every day.

Request an invitation by emailing

Include some details about your idea and reference links, and we will follow up with you.

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QS Access: See Your HealthKit Data in a Table


A year ago we released QS Access, a simple app that allows you to see your healthkit data in a table. Our idea was to make it easier for people to explore their data using familiar tools, such as Numbers, Excel, or any  spreadsheet program that can open a .csv file. We’ve really enjoyed hearing its been useful, and we’ve received lots of good feedback. This week we released a new version of the QS Access App that contains some commonly requested features. You can now:

  • QS-Access-ScreenSee raw data from individual elements, such as running.
  • Store the query details, so you don’t start from scratch each time.
  • Choose units for many quantities.
  • Get a table of your sleep data.

We’re still listening, so if you are using QS Access and have feedback for us please let us know by emailing

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QS Europe Preview: Using Genetic Data for Recovery from Injury


In the nearly 10 years since direct-to-consumer genetic testing was pioneered by 23andme, regulators have grown more watchful over the claims companies can make about the benefits of knowing your genome. In response, direct-to-consumer testing companies have changed their game plan, emphasizing ancestry and fun facts over physiological insight. Meanwhile, at Quantified Self meetings and conferences, interest in using direct-to-consumer genetic data for health and fitness has never let up.

This year at the QS Europe, Ralph Pethica, whose PhD in genetics and obsession with sports performance in surfing and cycling lead him to use his own DNA results to optimize his training, will be contributing two sessions. He’s going to lead a 30 minute “how-to” session on making better use of our genomic data to optimise fitness training; and, he’s going to give a fascinating 5 minute ignite talk about the cycling accident that lead him to explore the relationship between genomics and recovery from injury. You’re invited to join the discussion!

We program our QS conferences to support the exchange of ideas, and we’re always inspired by what we learn. Next up: QS Europe, September 18th and 19th in Amsterdam.

Register for QS Europe

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Meetups This Week

As the summer ends in the northern hemisphere, the number of QS meetups is picking up and there are some great groups getting together this week.

Amsterdam will have a combined meetup with Behavior Design AMS. They will have toolmaker talks from Kenkodo (tracking metabolism) and (fitness), as well as, a researcher talk from Marleen Onwezen on whether apps can be designed to help people make better decisions.

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 31
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tuesday, September 1
Toronto, Canada
Reno, Nevada
Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, September 3
Auckland, New Zealand
Denver, Colorado

Saturday, September 5
Denton, Texas

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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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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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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
QS Radio: Episode #4

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Two videos. Mark Wilson. Tehching Hsei.

Mark Wilson will be presenting his project at the QS15 Conference and Exposition. I wonder if we could get Tehching Hsei to present his?

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QS | Public Health Symposium: Doug Kanter’s Healthiest Year

We’ve featured the work of our friend and QS community member, Doug Kanter, many times here on the Quantified Self website and we were excited to have him participate in our Quantified Self Public Health Symposium. Doug is both a toolmaker and self-tracker, focusing primarily on using his experience with tracking his diabetes-related data to inform new tools and methods. In this talk, Doug explains what he learned from diving headfirst into a year-long project of tracking and visualizing all of the data he could gather about his diabetes self-management, his diet and activity, and other important factors. Beyond the wonderful visualizations he shared, Doug helped highlight something many patients and self-trackers are struggling with, the inability to access data easily and the lack of interoperability among data services and devices. We invite you to watch Doug’s wonderful talk below.

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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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