Since day one, Lifelog has provided a platform that helps people to understand themselves better. By collecting and analysing data across a range of activities, we’ve aimed to provide a holistic approach to data tracking – and to help people with everyday insights.
As of today, we’re taking these insights one step further. The latest Lifelog software update is designed to bring the notion of life-tracking to life by using new insight cards that help people to understand their activity in new ways. The update motivates users by benchmarking activity over time, against fun milestones and against other users.
To put a bit more flesh on the bones of this, we caught up with our resident data scientist Håkan Jonsson to discuss how the new features can transform how we record and learn from our own data as well as what’s in store for Lifelog in the future.
1) Describe yourself in 5 data points
Maximum age (years) 2000-2015: 48
Median hours of sleep per night: 5
Number of parachute jumps performed: 5
Emotionally estimated time (days) to PhD dissertation: 15323
Number of cars owned 2005-2015: 0
2) Quantified self apps have been around for a long time, why do you think they have suddenly taken off over the last few years?
I think there are two main factors contributing to this: technological and psycho-social. The technological simply means that sensors and batteries have become cheaper and efficient enough for everyday use. As humans we have always wanted to know ourselves better, it is an existential quest, about creating our identity. In a historic context, the difference is that now we are free to construct ourselves to a greater degree, but to do this we need the tools to understand ourselves.
3) What makes Sony’s approach to the quantified self-different – and why is that an important difference?
Sony’s Lifelog captures a broader range of data than others do, including sleep, exercise, travel, what apps we use, social aspects, and media consumption. This makes all the difference when you want a tool for self-reflection, rather than just a fitness performance tool.
4) How will the new Insight cards work and how does that tie in with the above / Sony’s differentiators in this field?
The user is notified in the Lifelog app when a new Insight card is available. The card will show the user an insight based on their data, providing more depth and a deeper understanding than just the raw stats. Some insights show your own data over time, other insights will compare you to others. The number of insights and the depth and breadth of them will grow, and we will closely follow user feedback based on what is interesting to them. The broad range of data logged by Lifelog, allows us to provide personalized insights to our users that are not available elsewhere.
5) What are the plans for the future of Lifelog? What areas of progress particularly interest you and why?
With Insights we present data from which the user can draw his/her own conclusions. The next step is coaching, by using the insights to give users advice on how to reach their goals. Through the Lifelog API, users can allow other applications to understand them and adapt to the user’s current context, to a degree not possible before. We also want to give the users tools for deeper analysis of their data, and potentially use it as memory prosthesis. Currently, Lifelog is very much focused on self-analysis, but the data you log could be used for other purposes, and for the benefit of others. We are currently investigating making it possible for users to share their data with academic research projects, which would benefit society rather than just ourselves, similarly to what we did with Folding@Home.
6) What is the ultimate goal of Lifelog?
For the Lifelog app, it is to become the tool of choice for self-reflection and self-construction. But Lifelog is more than the app. The data you log is an image of yourself that you can use to make other services understand and serve you better, and this is an open field for innovation and research.