Glympse: Location Sharing (with timeout) going mainstream?

On the (now completed) PRiMMA project we have known about Glympse for a long time but this recent article in Forbes makes an interesting note:

The way it’s currently monetizing is through a licensing model. Companies such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ford and Garmin have partnered with Glympse to add location-sharing capabilities to cars, so you can send out a Glympse of where you are on a freeway with a push of a button.

More evidence that location sharing is becoming mainstream?

Negative responses to visual lifelogging

In a previous post I wrote about how it is legal (at least in the UK) to take photos while in a public place as long as you aren’t obviously harrassing someone. I just found out about a guy who calls himself Surveillance Camera Man who seems to be conducting some kind of breaching experiment to test the limits of this. There is an article on GeekWire describing it but the latest video has already been reported to YouTube and blocked because it violates YouTube’s harassment policy. One of the earlier videos shows a confrontation with a security guard while standing on a public sidewalk and some very upset people. When he points out to a lady who comes out that they have cameras pointing at him, why can’t he have a camera pointed at them she doesn’t get the irony, falling back on “This is America…”.

As several of the comments note, had he done this in a different area he might have been beat up (but at least he would have the video evidence to prosecute his attackers I guess…).

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

Integrating lifelogging data sources for insights into…..fertility?

I’ve always argued that the power of lifelogging was not in just collecting one data item, but in finding patterns in several items that could not otherwise be detected without technology, however this is one application that I had not expected:

Lifelogging Cameras, New Devices and the Law

In addition to the well publicized Google Glass there are a couple of interesting kickstarter projects in this space. Memento is the most mature as far as I know but ParaShoot appeared recently and has some promising features, like all day battery by incorporating it into the neckstrap and wireless transmission to overcome the painful charge/sync cycle on the Microsoft SenseCam (Vicon Revue, now discontinued).

I often get asked about the legality of wearing a lifelogging camera. For this I turn to photographers who have been looking at the issue of taking still images in public and private places for a long time. There is a comprehensive country by country guide and for those interested in the UK situation there is a very comprehensive site  (and another with a handy 2-page printable PDF) but the short version for the UK is that in a public place where there is no normal expectation of privacy you can take photos of anything unless you are actively harassing someone. This means that you can stand on public land and take images of private property. While on private property you should follow whatever rules the owner insists on and they have the right to ask you to leave, but you don’t have to delete any images you may have already taken.  In general no one can delete your images without permission and the police can only seize your or memory cards in the context of arresting you for an offence (most of the time taking images isn’t an offense).

Emotion Sensing: Q Sensor

This device (which is on the expensive side) claims to track emotions:

Below are some links to publications and case studies, but I’m waiting to find out if anyone is able to do any useful lifelogging with this device for ‘ordinary’ people.
2 publications on the Q sensor: (try searching “Affectiva Q” in Google scholar, there’s recently been a fury of activity regarding the Q sensor 🙂


Recent case studies using the Q sensor:

  • SPDF: Autism use case
  • Curling and Cadwels: Therapy use case
  • Bentley College:  Usability use case
  • BBC Special on the Q sensor (video):

2011-2012 Lifelogging Study: Visual, Activity, Sleep

At the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 I conducted a series of studies with so-called “ordinary people”, that is, people who were not self-quantifiers of life-loggers and had no particular technology or gadget interest. I analyzed the then current technology for visual life-logging (really only the Microsoft Sensecam/Vicon Revue) as well as dedicated apps and devices for activity and sleep measurement. You can find much of the device analysis in the Devices tab above, but the report on the studies is in this document: 2011-2012-Visual-Sleep-Activity Study1

One of the conclusions is that the usability of the dedicated devices (Vicon Revue and FitBit) are poor including poor sync/charge for ordinary people: they both require too much car and feeding!

A long overdue update..

I began analyzing life-logging devices and apps over 2 years ago but neglected to write it up properly, so this post is a step toward addressing that. You can find the criteria I used to evaluate the devices and apps along with an explanation of how I developed the criteria on the Devices page. So far I have written up the analysis of visual life-logging, activity monitors and sleep monitors. I also submited a paper (2013-CHI-PI-Workshop-Price-Submitted) with a very concise write up of the study I did last year to the CHI 2013 Workshop on Personal Informatics.

I was disappointed at the really poor accuracy my participants found for sleep monitoring with the FitBit. My pilot participants had a rough correlation with their Zeo Sleep Monitor scores, but nearly all the participants in my study had very high sleep interruption scores which were very suspicious. Now that some of the smartphone sleep monitoring apps have more open access to their data I have been playing with them to see how well their scores correlate with Zeo or even my own subjective experience. If they even work for some people to some degree then they would be the least invasive, least effortful (virtually no charge/sync effort) logging method. Failing that, it remains to test more recent devices like the new FitBit Flex or the Lark.  It may be that I was unlucky in my choice of particpants (there were only 7) and actigraphy is a poor measure for them.

Experiments with Personal Informatics Devices (Lifelogging) for self-hacking, persuasion, influence, nudge, and coercion (PINC)