Liberating our (biometric) data
I gave a talk on technologically mediated self-representations (have to come up with a sexier term for that, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) this morning for Piksels & Lines, a research seminar and workshop for the Libre Graphic Research Unit that’s ongoing here in Bergen. I felt a little self-conscious showing this open source, free culture group all my proprietary web services on my far-from-open iPad, but that also made me articulate more clearly some of my reservations about these services. I resent having to upload my data to the cloud in order to access it – whether it be data from my FitBit, my phone or something else.
One of the workshop participants told me about OpenYou.org, where they work on open source development on health hardware. They “reverse engineer and develop drivers and libraries for whatever health hardware they can find”, including the FitBit, the Nike Fuelband and even pacemakers and other biometric devices. I love this! Unfortunately it looks as though I need to learn to program before I can do a lot with my FitBit’s data, but I could download the stuff to get access to it, anyway.
Another, possibly related project is the Device Analyzer for Android. This is a Cambridge-based research project that invites people to sign up and feed all their data to the project. I’m not sure how they got this past the research board – they state clearly that they can’t guarantee anonymity although they remove obviously identifying information. You get access to all your own information, and everyone gets access to the aggregated data, for free. Wonderful for researchers, and I’m definitely going to look into this more closely. I’m not sure I want to upload my data, though.
Does anyone know about more people doing this kind of stuff, and that are maybe more non-programmer-friendly at this stage?