Using Mobile Phones to Understand Ourselves and Motivate Change
Mobile technology has come a long way from those foot-long phones hooked up to a shoe box sized battery pack. With bluetooth, GPS, cameras, and Internet connections, mobile phones nowadays pack a lot of power. How can we put this functionality to use?
Mobile Phones for Personal Data
The technology to collect data about ourselves is available. We can record where we have been with GPS, and with cameras, we can keep track of what we have seen. We can then upload this data regularly with a persistent Internet connection, and what we end up with are travel patterns and live image streams.
Putting Personal Data to Use
Now things start to get super interesting. The challenge is to figure out what to do with all the data.
- What do you do with a year's worth of location traces or a year's worth of pictures taken every few minutes?
- What story can you tell and what inferences can you make?
- Can you combine data from the phone with existing databases e.g. weather, environment, or traffic?
- What type of visualization is more effective in making data available to non-expert users?
In the coming weeks I will be investigating these questions on this subject of self-surveillance, and if you don't mind, will be bringing all of you along for the ride (towards completing my dissertation :).
What would you do with location data or a continuous image stream from a year of your life?