Category Archives: Activity

Activity monitoring device/software, usually aimed at measuring exercise.

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.

A new activity tracker which also includes heart rate, but not automated…

Withings have announced their competition for the FitBit, the Pulse. It competes directly with the FitBit One but additionally tracks heart rate if you put your finger on the sensor (not automatically as we would have hoped, for that you need the Basis). I still use the FitBit Zip in preference to all the others because it overcomes one of the major usability faults my participants have complained of: the charge sync cycle. The Zip will store its data for up to a week but will opportunistically sync whenever it finds any fitbit low power bluetooth station, including a smartphone app. I don’t have to do anything and I get an email if my zip hasn’t found a fitbit station within a few days.  The FitBit One needs to be charged at least once a week while the new Pulse claims a 2 week charge life. If that’s true then for me it would probably be good enough to switch from the Zip (battery replacement every 2-3 months).  Although Maarten suggest the HR is not very accurate (as some have claimed about Basis):


@yankeeinlondon bulky, great display, inaccurate/slow heartbeat measurements, nice app integration

— Maarten den Braber (@mdbraber) June 23, 2013

ViconRevue (formerly Microscoft SenseCam)

Formerly known as the Microsoft SenseCam, Microsoft licensed this to Vicon to sell commercially in 2010 as the Vicon Revue. At time of writing this device recorded VGA quality still images at irregular intervals based on an algorithm which responds to onboard sensor data from PIR, light, temperature and movement sensors. Both the history of the sensor data and the images are stored on the onboard flash drive. The device has a mini-USB interface which can be used to access the images on the flash drive as well as charge the built-in battery. The usual method for accessing the images is a highly manual process where the provided proprietary software running on a Windows PC and the device is plugged into the USB bus. The software is activated and it removes all the images and data from the device and copies them into a folder structure on the PC. The proprietary software may then be used to view the images by date/time and to play them for a given date as a kind of slide-show with a variable speed control.

Data Extraction

Although the provided software is slow, clunky, and only allows access to the image/timestamp data, researchers at Dublin City University’s CLARITY centre have released open source software SenseCam Browser software which can automatically segment the image data, allow labelling, and provide hooks for further research expansion.

Here is a sample of a reasonable good quality image from the device (although many images may appear much blurrier than this if the device is moving while the image is taken):