Follow the Data

A data driven blog

Self-tracking news

FitBit have started to ship their clip-on device for tracking the amount of calories burnt, steps taken and distance travelled, as well as sleep quality. As explained here, the FitBit contains an accelerometer (many new phones have that as well, but they are bulkier than the FitBit) which has custom algorithms, trained using “ground truth” measurements like breath gas composition, that can accurately estimate calorie consumption for different kinds of movements like walking to the kitchen, jogging or dashing to the bus.

Now the only thing left is to measure how many calories that go into your system. Luckily, DailyBurn have just released FoodScanner, an iPhone app that lets you scan barcodes on the food you buy. It’s currently on sale for just 99 cents (!), but unfortunately in might only be available in the U.S. version of AppleStore (at least the Swedish one doesn’t have it as I write this). The information you scan can be uploaded to DailyBurn’s web site and added to a growing food database. Seems pretty cool.

Another recent release (Sept. 17) was a book called Total Recall – How the E-memory Revolution Will Change Everything, by Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, who are involved with Microsoft Research’s MyLifeBits project. Bell has been trying to record as much of his life as possible – including photos, letters and phone calls – since 1998. A quote from the blurb, where I find the part in italics particularly interesting:

We are capturing so much of our lives now, be it on the date–and location–stamped photos we take with our smart phones or in the continuous records we have of our emails, instant messages, and tweets–not to mention the GPS tracking of our movements many cars and smart phones do automatically. We are storing what we capture either out there in the “cloud” of services such as Facebook or on our very own increasingly massive and cheap hard drives. But the critical technology, and perhaps least understood, is our magical new ability to find the information we want in the mountain of data that is our past. And not just Google it, but data mine it so that, say, we can chart how much exercise we have been doing in the last four weeks in comparison with what we did four years ago. In health, education, work life, and our personal lives, the Total Recall revolution is going to change everything.

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2 thoughts on “Self-tracking news

  1. Pingback: Three Bits of Exciting Self-Tracking News « Regurgitation

  2. Pingback: Three Bits of Exciting Self-Tracking News | Quantified Self

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