- Bank of England Complains About AR Bank Notes — After downloading the free Blippar app on iPhone or Android, customers were able to ‘blipp’ any ten-pound note in circulation by opening the app and holding their phone over the note. An animated Queen, and other members of the Royal Family, then appeared on the screen and voiced opinions on the latest football matters.
- Quantified Mind — battery of cognitive tests, so you can track performance over time and measure the effect of interventions (coffee, diet, exercise, whatever). (via Sara Winge)
- Jellyfish Made From Rat Cells (Nature) — an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart. Very cool, but the bit that caught my eye was: the team built the medusoid as a way of understanding the “fundamental laws of muscular pumps”. It is an engineer’s approach to basic science: prove that you have identified the right principles by building something with them.
"quantified self" entries
No Augmenting Money, Cat CV, Quantified Mind, and Hackable Bio
Dr. Nadav Aharony used phone sensors to explore personal behaviors and community trends.
It’s clear at this point that the smartphone revolution has very little to do with the phone function in these devices. Rather, it’s the unique mix of sensors, always-on connectivity and mass consumer adoption that’s shaping business and culture.
Dr. Nadav Aharony (@nadavaha) tapped into this mix when he was working on a “social MRI” study in MIT’s Media Lab. Aharony, who recently joined us as part of our ongoing foo interview series, described his vision of the social MRI:
“If you think about it, the three things you take with you when you go out of your home are your keys, your wallet and your phone, so our phones are always with us. In aggregate, we can use the phones in many people’s pockets as a virtual imaging chamber. So, one aspect of the social MRI is this virtual imaging chamber that is collecting tens or hundreds of signals at the same time from members of the community.” [Discussed at 1:16]
Aharony’s work focused on 150 participants (about 75 families) that were given phones for 15 months. During that time, more than one million hours of “continuous sensing data” was gathered with the participants’ consent. The data was acquired and scrubbed under MIT’s ethics guidelines, and for extra measure, Aharony included his own data in the dataset.
Collecting the data was just the beginning. Parsing that information and creating experiments based on emerging signals is where the applications of a social MRI became significant.
Health App, The Met 3D Scanning, Skinnerian Apps, and Visual Programming
- BeWell App (Google Play) — continuously tracks user behaviors along three key health dimensions without requiring any user input — the user simply downloads the app and uses the phone as usual. Finally, someone tracking my behaviour for my own good.
- Met 3D — the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts its first 3d printing and scanning hackathon. [O]n June 1 and 2, approximately twenty-five digital artists and programmers will gather at the Met to experiment with the latest 3-D scanning and replicating technologies. Their aim will be to use the Museum’s vast encyclopedic collections as a departure point for the creation of new work. THIS. IS. AWESOME. (via Alison Marigold)
- The Perfected Self (The Atlantic) — everything you knew about B. F. Skinner was wrong, and you should know about him because you’re using his techniques to lose weight, stop smoking, and do your homework. (via Erica Lloyd)
- Google Blockly — (Google Code) A web-based, graphical programming language. Users can drag blocks together to build an application. No typing required. Open sourced.
Tracking health data to maintain awareness and intention.
I'm trying to walk the line between obsessive tracking and an open ended approach to motivation.
Illuminated Mario, Touchstone Facts, Calculating Spamicity, and Abstract Quantified Self
- Gravity in the Margins (Got Medieval) — illuminating illuminated manuscripts with Mario. (via BoingBoing)
- Hours Days, Who’s Counting? (Jon Udell) — What prompted me to check? My friend Mike Caulfield, who’s been teaching and writing about quantitative literacy, says it’s because in this case I did have some touchstone facts parked in my head, including the number 10 million (roughly) for barrels of oil imported daily to the US. The reason I’ve been working through a bunch of WolframAlpha exercises lately is that I know I don’t have those touchstones in other areas, and want to develop them. The idea of “touchstone facts” resonates with me.
- Spotting Fake Reviewer Groups in Consumer Reviews (PDF) — gotta love any paper that says We calculated the “spamicity” (degree of spam) of each group by assigning 1 point for each spam judgment, 0.5 point for each borderline judgment and 0 point for each non-spam judgment a group received and took the average of all 8 labelers. (via Google Research Blog)
- Visualizing Physical Activity Using Abstract Ambient Art (Quantified Self) — kinda like the iTunes visualizer but for your Fitbit Tracker.
Archiving Gmail, Apps vs Web, Historical Fame, and Travel Tips
- Gmail Vault — app to backup and restore the contents of your gmail account. (via Hacker News)
- Leaving Apps for HTML5 (Technology Review) — We sold 353 subscriptions through the iPad. We never discovered how to avoid the necessity of designing both landscape and portrait versions of the magazine for the app. We wasted $124,000 on outsourced software development. We fought amongst ourselves, and people left the company. There was untold expense of spirit. I hated every moment of our experiment with apps, because it tried to impose something closed, old, and printlike on something open, new, and digital. (via Alex Howard)
- Your Two Weeks of Fame, and Your Grandmother’s (PDF) — researchers mined 20C news articles to see whether shrinking news cycles caused briefer fame. Instead they found duration of celebrity is largely steady across the entire century, though depending on how they measured celebrity they could sometimes see changes in the duration with the most famous. (via Google Research)
- Dan Pink’s Travel Tips — the author travels a lot and has passed on his tips in these videos.
Bruce Perry on how to get away from the computer, eat well, and live a healthy life.
Programmers who spend 14 hours a day in front of a computer know how hard it is to step away from the cubicle. But as "Fitness for Geeks" author Bruce Perry notes in this podcast, getting fit doesn't need to be daunting.
The Quantified Professor, Bus Monitor, Arduino Confessor, and Ethics of Deceit
- Examining His Own Body (Science Now) — Stanford prof. has sequenced his DNA and is now getting massively Quantified Self on his metabolism, infections, etc. This caught my eye: George Church, who has pioneered DNA sequencing technology and runs the Personal Genome Project* at Harvard Medical School in Boston that enrolls people willing to share genomic and medical information similar to what’s presented in the Cell report, says some might critique Snyder’s self-exam as merely anecdotal. “But one response is that it is the perfect counterpoint to correlative studies which lump together thousands of cases versus controls with relatively much less attention to individual idiosyncrasies,” Church says. “I think that N=1 causal analyses will be increasingly important.”
- Bus Arrival Monitor (John Graham-Cumming) — hacked a toy doubledecker bus with LED display feeding bus arrival info from the Transport for London API via a modded Linksys WRT router.
- Arduino Tool That Connects Each Board to Its Own Source (Ideo) — If you create something with Arduino and put it out into the world, there is no well-established link to the source. If you personally made the device, the source can get lost over time. If you didn’t create it, you could have a tough time tracking the source down. You have the physical device, why can’t it tell you where it’s code lives? I made a tool for Arduino called “Upload-And-Retrieve-Source” that for the most part solves this problem. (via Chris Spurgeon)
- Mike Daisey is a Liar and So Am I — I linked to the original This American Life story, so now I’m linking to the best commentary on their retraction of the story. This is an excellent piece on the ubiquity and ethics of Daiseyesque means-justifies-the-end for-a-good-cause deceit.
REST Interfaces, Browser History, Crappy Textbooks, and Wireless Babies
- Designing RESTful Interfaces (Slideshare) — extremely good presentation on how to build HTTP APIs.
- Manipulating History for Fun and Profit — if you want to make websites that are AJAX-responsive but without breaking the back button or preventing links, read this.
- Why Textbooks Are So Broken (Salon) — Let’s say a publisher hires a developer for a certain low-bid fee to produce seven supplemental math books for grades 3-8. The product specs call for each student book and teacher guide to have page counts of roughly 100 pages and 80 pages, respectively. The publisher wants these seven books ready for press in five weeks—over 1,400 pages. To put this in perspective, in the not too recent past at least six months would be allotted for a project of this size. But publishers customarily shrink their deadlines to get a jump on the competition, especially in today’s math market. Unreasonable turnaround times are part of the new normal, something that almost guarantees a lack of quality right out of the gate.
- exmobaby — wireless biosensor baby pyjamas send ECG, skin temperature, and movement data via Zigbee. (via Jo Komisarczuk)