All posts by Blaine

My teeth are spying on me

In a short paper presented at the 17th annual international symposium on International symposium on wearable computers (alongside UbiComp’13) in Zurich, there was this interesting paper on a device that could potentially be made wireless and battery powered (prototype was neither) to detect compliance with a diet, smoking, drinking or to detect dental problems like teeth grinding.  There are articles about it in the Daily Mail and other popular media as well.  Privacy implications if your teeth spy on you?

Autographer Blog Interview with Gordon Bell

There is a nice interview with lifelogging pioneer Gordon Bell on the Autographer Blog covering the history of lifelogging as he sees it. The Autographer lifelogging camera is now available in Europe and there is a review of it on Tech Radar. It has a claimed 10 hour battery life but the user interface seems only a small step on from the Vicon Revue/Sensecam–I would be very curious to see how it could be used in a privacy preserving way so you don’t accidentally get images of things you don’t want to have images of.

New app: Paying cash for your data and encouraging healthy lifestyle

In return for selling your aggregated (and supposedly anonymized) data about your healthy activity and your foursquare checkins, this app will give you cash when you do healthy things, apparently to encourage you to lead a healthier lifestyle (cash payments only available to US residents though).  Nice review of it on mashable.

This is one of the many kinds of services we are talking about in a grant application we are writing now to allow people to do this kind of thing with lifelogging data in a privacy preserving way.

Quantified Mind

I just re-discovered the Quantified Mind site which lets you do a range of cognitive tests so you can experiment on what factors affect your mental state, such as coffee, skipping breakfast, and sex among other things. Any psychologists out there know how well any of these tests are validated? I’ll try it for a while and see if I find any correlations….

Video Life-Logging getting creepier? Para-Shoot now on pre-order (Update: looks like an existing product)

The Para-Shoot Kickstarter project has now moved to pre-order phase and looks set to be the most practical visual life-logging tool yet — it can cover a whole day in relatively high resolution, but the creepy thing is that, unlike the Vicon Revue/Sensecam, this is designed to not look like a camera. The high resolution combined with the fact that you can’t tell when it is recording is going to raise the same ethical questions as Google Glass.

EDIT 22 Aug 2013: previous mention of the neckband battery was from the ParaShoot v1 (unfunded) kickstarter page that I had linked to in error, thanks to Dave and others for pointing that out!

UPDATE: kickstarter has suspended funding for para-shoot, no explanation yet. There are suggestions on twitter that the hardware has been cloned.

UPDATE: campaign now moved to indigogo but no explanation for kickstarter suspension.

UPDATE: looks like this is a re-badge of an available Chinese product called Unieye, see for example this eBay listing:

How do you sleep the night before you know you are going to be live on national TV?

On Monday I got my 15 minutes of fame all in one day. Celia and I were on the BBC 1 Breakfast TV sofa for about 6 minutes…













Then I did a Radio 4 interview where I mentioned sex, excrement and spying litter bins all before 8:30 in the morning….followed by BBC Radio Scotland then BBC Radio Warwickshire the next day.

Celia, who was my premier league lifelogger from the study, thought we should monitor our sleep for the night before we knew we would both be live on national TV, so we wore our Zeo headbands. Now I am a championship sleeper, when WakeMate were still in business and I used their wristband (the most comfortable of the lot I might add), I was regularly in the top 5 ranked sleepers in the world on their charts.  However, it appears that, at least for me, knowing your are going to be live on national TV affects sleep. Here is my Zeo sleep graph for that night:

Blaine's sleep the night before Breakfast TV Broadcast

As you can see, I take ages to fall asleep, have very little deep sleep (dark green) and very little REM sleep (light green), then wide awake from 4AM wondering which talking point I can use! Finally around 6AM I fall back into REM sleep and the alarm goes off.

Meanwhile, here is Celia’s graph (different format because it came from an Android phone):




























As you can see, she sleeps right through the night (other than the 2 wake up spikes which are normal for her), she gets up at 6 then takes the headband off later. Celia also gave a brilliant interview, so from the small sample we conclude that, for some people, the threat of appearing on live television has an adverse affect on sleep quality, while for others, it has no effect. Another data point for the journal of useless results….

Comparing Activity Monitors for Usability and Accuracy: FitBit One versus FitBit Zip Review

In a study I wrote in 2011 I analyzed the then available activity monitors for usabilty by non-self-quantifiers (aka “ordinary people”). At the time I concluded that the Fitbit (then there was only one model) was the most appropriate because it synchronized wirelessly and automatically and only need to be charged every 5-7 days. Since then several competitors have come out which are either wristband based (like the Jawbone Up which requires a cable to synchronize it) or clip-ons like the FitBit. FitBit have also expanded their range, with the lastest clip-on, the FitBit One, also measuring number of stairs climbed in addition to the activity and notional sleep of the original model.  Like the original it also syncs wirelessly but this time by low power Bluetooth 4.0 rather than a proprietary charge/sync USB.

The other recent FitBit model is the less expensive FitBit Zip which also uses Bluetooth 4.0 and sports an even lower power LCD display activated by tapping it. This model uses a button sized dsiposable CR2032 battery which lasts about 3 months so the only thing you have to do is remember to  carry it with you. For this reason I chose to use it for my recent studies which were filmed by BBC Horizon (planned broadcast Autumn 2013). I have been asked about the accuracy of the Zip given how much it must be optimizing in order to make the battery last so long, so I asked one of my participants to wear both on her waist at the same position for 2 months. This person is a 52 year old female with an office-based job but a relatively active life (as you can see from the raw data on the spreadsheets) and a personal determination to always get at least 10,000 steps every day.  As you can see from the data, over 59 days the overall difference in step count was 3% (note: you can see some higher variations on certain days in the history because she travelled to the US and for some days at the beginning and end of the trip one fitbit was in the wrong time zone).

Now the time to charge the FitBits which require charging is at least half an hour and both myself and participants in my earlier study have forgotten it on the charger at times and thus missed out data. With the Zip you only need to remember to put it in your pocket at the beginning of the day and when you get the low battery warning email 2-3 months later to change the battery. As a result, for the insignificant accuracy difference I prefer the Zip.

In my next post I’ll compare the Zip, the wristband based FitBit Flex and the iPhone app Moves.

Public Visual Lifelogging going mainstream?

Not long after my earlier post about the so-called creepy CCTV guy, I find this image apparently taken on the Central Line in London (tube/subway/metro) with what looks like a lifelogging camera and lots of video screens on the jacket playing things. I don’t know if it was a publicity stunt but I would love to know the public reaction as he walked around. (Thanks to via the self-hacking google group.)