server rack

What data could a centralized platform bring together for you?


Right now, if you’re tracking your weight, diet, and number of steps taken per day, the odds are good that you use multiple tools to do so — and that the data you collect wind up in some very different places. If you add in any more information, like emotional state or blood pressure, the complexity of dealing with that information multiplies.

But those numbers are really only meaningful when looked at together. Even as we track information like weight and diet separately, we all know that the two are closely tied. So why don’t our tools show us the connections between the different types of information we’re collecting each day? Why aren’t tools focusing on making our data easier to interpret in the aggregate?

Centralized Data Tools Are Coming

In fact, we’re probably going to start seeing new apps that do just that, perhaps along with some hardware to make matters even more manageable. The first big convergence you can expect in your health data is the availability of platforms that can pull in data from more than one source. We’re already seeing hints of such a platform from Apple; leaked screenshots of an app titled “Healthbook” make it clear that Apple expects to be able to access a wide variety of users’ health data, either from existing sensors we may already use or from upcoming Apple … Read More

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Categories: Big Data, Data, Health

Saga Excursions in the Press

By / April 21, 2014 /

Over the past several months, this blog has added a new type of story to our feed of wearable technology, lifelogging, quantified self, and data security topics. The Saga Excursion program began in early 2014 and has since seen Saga users in places from Australia to Alaska, and all around the world (in fact, the above map shows every single place our Excursioners have gone in the last three months!). Putting the app through its paces have been a group of people as varied as the places they’ve visited: graphic designers, freelancers, lawyers and law students, writers, photographers, athletes, musicians, foodies (including vegans), and the list goes on and on. Every single one of these folks has proven that Saga can be used in more ways than we ever imagined when the app was first conceived, and the message is clear:

Everyone can lifelog in their own way, and Saga helps make that easier.


Here are some of the great things some of our Excursioners have said about Saga:

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“I have enjoyed checking in at different locations, adding comments and photos, integrating my other social media channels into my lifelog, and interacting with Saga users. As somewhat of a privacy nut, I have also appreciated that I can control who sees what activity and when.”

- Julie Falconer, A Lady in London, “Lady is Lifelogging,” February 6, 2014

Another user underscored how well Saga manages privacy settings. Especially … Read More

Categories: Excursions

Apple’s Healthbook May Push Quantified Self Forward

By / April 19, 2014 /

A leaked screenshot showing the Healthbook app


Health tracking tools have gained momentum, to the point that Apple is considering moving into the space. It’s worth remembering that Apple is rarely the first into a given market — the first mass-produced MP3 player came out in 1998, while the iPod didn’t hit shelves until 2001 — but the company tends to leverage its design strengths to take newer product ideas to a higher level.

Leaked screenshots of the iPhone 6 include a ‘Healthbook’ app imply Apple has decided that the tools tracking individuals’ health data have a definite market, but there’s still room for some dramatic improvements. While we can’t assume too much just on the basis of a few screenshots, we can make some guesses on what those improvements may look like.

Integration Takes a Leading Role

One of the big difficulties in collecting and managing health data right now is that there aren’t easy ways to get all of your data into one tool. Apple has already proved capable of handling data management questions when it created iTunes, even if managing your music and your health are fairly different questions.

Those leaked screenshots seem to show some level of integration, with navigation tabs to help a user look at information like “Activity” and “Weight,” as well as information that’s unlikely to come from your existing fitness trackers, like “Bloodwork.”

Apple may or may not be planning to launch … Read More

Categories: Apple, Apps, Quantified Self

Fertility: The Next Frontier for Lifelogging Tools

By / April 16, 2014 /
Ovulation tracker

Is technology changing the way you think about fertility?

For many people, the process of having children — or choosing not to — can be a huge part of their lives. It’s only logical that logging information about fertility will become a major component of lifelogging, and it’s already well on its way.

The Oldest Form of Lifelogging

While technology is only just discovering the idea of tracking fertility, women have been keeping track of their personal cycles for thousands of years. The Old Testament laid out specific religious observations required of women during and after their periods, making it necessary to pay attention to the observer’s cycle. Many other cultures have their own traditions and expectations around fertility.

In the early part of the 20th century, as more research was done around ovulation and pregnancy, calendar-based contraception methods made fertility tracking even more practical. Fertility awareness methods, based on observing signs of fertility, like basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position, became more prevalent in the 1960s and remain useful today for both women hoping to conceive and those hoping to avoid conception.

New software and hardware are bringing new approaches to this sort of tracking, although perhaps not at the full speed that other niches within lifelogging are moving forward.

Apps Make the Work Easier

A number of apps, like Glow, Kindara, and Ovuline, are currently available to help track data about personal fertility, primarily with the … Read More

Categories: Health, Pregnancy, Sex

Lifelogging: A Better Way to Manage Chronic Conditions

By / April 15, 2014 /
 Hospital monitor
How could you improve your health with better data?

While the pioneers of the lifelogging movement weren’t necessarily tracking numbers about themselves for reasons more complex than research or curiosity, that approach to examining the different parts of your life in some depth can now help you improve your overall health. Even those of us in excellent shape can benefit from collecting a few numbers, if only to catch potential problems before they start.

Since we can’t always predict what our bodies will do — what might make our genes perform in one way or another — the more data we can collect, the more information we have to work with. Jumping into lifelogging wholeheartedly might be a little intimidating, however, so start by considering these big wins.

Good Data Minimizes Chronic Conditions

If you have a chronic condition, no matter the cause, you will have your good days and bad days. Increasing the number of good days on your calendar requires following the regimen your doctor sets out for you. Just tracking how well you’re doing at sticking closely to that regimen and how well you feel on a given day can reinforce the habit of doing those things that you need to.

Expanding the information you collect to other pieces of data about your daily life (like the foods you’re … Read More

Categories: Data, Health, Lifelogging

Juliya Ziskina

By / April 12, 2014 /

Every week, we choose a few Saga excursions to feature on the blog. Download Saga for iOS or Android, and if you’d like to apply to go on a Saga Excursion, fill out the application. We offer cash subsidies to the most creative entries!

Juliya Ziskina is a coffee artist. No, that doesn’t mean she can render four-leafed clovers in latte foam. She uses coffee as the medium for her intricate, whimsical paintings. This gives her paintings a unique sepia-tone quality. How would her technique translate to renderings of some of the world’s most famous masterworks? She took a Saga excursion to New York City to find out.

In her application she writes:

I propose to go to all of the most preeminent art galleries in New York City, pick a painting from each one, and recreate it…using coffee. Don’t worry, it’s not totally out of the blue! I’m a Seattle artist (and law student), and my primary medium is coffee. In today’s tech world (no offense, Saga), people often forget about the importance of art and art history. Art opens up new aesthetic worlds––even if just for the few moments you spend standing in front of the canvas––that relate, in varying degrees, to our everyday experience. This is the metaphorical foot in the door that allows you to enter that other-world and immerse yourself in something different.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.07.18 AMNow she’s back in Seattle, spending her time (when she’s not at the UW Law Library) in coffee shops, working … Read More

Categories: Excursions

Telehealth Technology Lets Us Be Proactive About Our Health

By / April 11, 2014 /
Health apps on tablet

How can your tablet protect your health?

With the incredible wealth of computing power and sensors sitting inside our home, we can take a very active role in our own healthcare. Smartphones and tablets today are generations ahead of what medical professionals had access to inside hospitals even just a few years ago.

The biggest wins are available for those individuals who need the most help managing their own care, such as patients suffering from chronic health issues or elderly patients dealing with multiple concerns at once. Of course, medical professionals and caregivers can benefit from having basic health tracking data available for each person they’re responsible for.

A Small Change Offers a Big Improvement

But think small for a moment: just having someone available via an app on a smartphone or tablet who can answer health questions quickly would help many patients stick to their medical instructions better. If that expert had access to the medical history of the patients asking for help, so much the better. That small improvement could create a major improvement in healthcare, especially for patients who can’t easily get to a doctor’s office or a hospital. That tactic is one of the underlying ideas for a new ‘telehealth’ initiative in the UK.

The move is based, in part, on new numbers that show that 35 percent of tablet owners in the UK are over the age of 55. Thinking bigger, … Read More

Categories: Health, Smart Watch, Wearable Devices

Elizabeth Cook

By / April 10, 2014 /

Every week, we choose a few Saga excursions to feature on the blog. Download Saga for iOS or Android, and if you’d like to apply to go on a Saga Excursion, fill out the application. We offer cash subsidies to the most creative entries!

Elizabeth Cook recently went on a quest for the best dumplings in Beijing. When you’re a dumpling fan, it only makes sense to go to China to sample some in their natural habitat. From her photos, it looks like she wasn’t disappointed.

IMG_4852cropSaga was the perfect way for her to capture her samplings and remember what she tried where. She added photos to her lifelog in order to remember the dumplings she tasted, and she can easily check to see exactly where she was when she ate them — in case she wants to go back or tell someone else where to get the best dumplings in Beijing. All without having to learn to read Mandarin.

Coincidentally, Elizabeth was the second Saga Excursion to visit the Great Wall of China this year. Mikey also checked off his bucket list goal of walking along the wall. Saga is the perfect way to record your travels, whether you’re searching for the world’s best dumpling, or on a quest to check items off your bucket list.

To see how Elizabeth used Saga to record and remember her dumpling quest, tap here on your smartphone to open her profile in Saga.

Categories: Excursions

How We Protected Users From the Heartbleed Bug

By / April 9, 2014 /

In case you haven’t heard, the Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. We have insured the security and privacy of our users’ data by updating our libraries and rotating our SSL certificates. We have also insured against any SSH vulnerabilities by patching our servers to a secure library, though we now know that SSH was not at risk.

We reacted quickly, and we have no reason to believe that there was any breach. Please get in touch if you have concerns, and rest assured that your Saga data is safe and secure. To read more about Heartbleed, click here.


Categories: Saga

Saga Named Webby Honoree

By / April 9, 2014 /

We’re proud to announce that the prestigious Webby Awards academy has named Saga as an honoree in the ‘Best Use of GPS or Location Technology’ category. This means that Saga was hand-picked as a top technology from among over 12,000 entrants.

The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences — a 1,000+ member judging body that includes Executive Members comprised of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees and other Internet professionals.

Why was Saga selected for this prestigious distinction? Because of the innovative way it uses location services and sensors to understand not only location, but also place. When you carry a smartphone with location services turned on, it will always be aware of your GPS coordinates. But that’s not very useful or interesting, unless you’re lost in the wilderness. Understanding the kinds of places you spend your time and what you do there can be interesting and useful, however.

But I know where I go and what I do, you may be thinking. Ah, yes, but do you remember what you did the day before you met the love of your life, or the name of that amazing Dim Sum place you discovered last month? Saga keeps track of those things and more. Keeping a lifelog that automatically records place helps you remember how you … Read More

Categories: Saga