Have you ever built your own wearable self-tracking device?

Hi All!

I am a PhD student at the Design Dept. - Politecnico di Milano, my research focuses on Self-tracking Wearables design processes informed by Philosophy of Technology approaches.

Last year I started tracking myself using an activity tracker (Garmin wristband) and an attention training headband (Interaxon Muse 2). I analysed the way I related to these devices and how this relationship influenced my self-perception. I am willing to share some thoughts with both amateur and expert self-trackers from this amazing community who built by themselves their devices to support the practice.

I am willing to find volunteers to share their experience in a 30-min interview.
If you can help me and are interested to take part in my research, please answer below! Or contact me at chiara.dilodovico@polimi.it.

Thank you very much in advance for your help :heart:
Any answer will be very appreciated :slight_smile:

Hi Chiara,
Are looking to both share what you’ve learned, and to learn from us? Thanks

Hi Brian,

Thank you very much for raising this point! Let me explain :slight_smile:

Being a design researcher, my interest is to support designers in developing wearable technologies being aware of opportunities, limits and challenges. From March 2020 I started getting interested in wearable technologies used to carry out self-tracking practices: from biosignals and performance monitoring to self-discovery through reflection and patterns identification.

As a researcher, I firstly wanted to directly experience the effects of interacting with wearables able to track and interpret data coming from my own body. So I bought two diverse wearables to experiment:

  • the activity tracker smartband “vivosmart 4 by Garmin”

  • the EEG-powered brain-sensing headband “Muse S by Interaxon”.

I went through diverse stages of engagement: from curiosity and full interest in reaching goals and tracking various aspects of my daily journey, to disappointment and trust reduction when seeing data not corresponding to the activities I actually performed and doubt/anxiety when the device (Garmin wristband) started showing me things like 100 bpm in moments in which I was chatting with friends, chill and seated.

Going back to literature studies I discovered overlapping between my own experience and others. Specifically, I identified the following critical points:

  • Accuracy issues (Lazar et al., 2015)

  • Gap between the features desired by consumers and the capabilities of the device (Kim et al., 2016)

  • Unsuitable visualization and analytics tools, poor skills for analyzing data (Choe et al., 2014)

  • Difficulty of making meaning with ambiguous data: data doubt, hope in data, and data anxiety (Lomborg et al., 2020)

I would love to talk with people who self-build wearable technologies for self-tracking/self-discovery to understand if and how they tackled the above points in their iterative design process and experience.
I think designers could learn a lot from the QS community for their members’ attitude towards self-experimentation and their ability to work hard on making sense of quantified data.

Given these premises, I would like to learn from you!

PS: Here are the references!

  • Choe, E. K., Lee, N. B., Lee, B., Pratt, W., & Kientz, J. A. (2014, April). Understanding
    quantified-selfers’ practices in collecting and exploring personal data. In Proceedings of the
    SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1143-1152).

  • Lazar, A., Koehler, C., Tanenbaum, T. J., & Nguyen, D. H. (2015, September). Why we use and abandon smart devices. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM international joint conference on pervasive and ubiquitous computing (pp. 635-646).

  • Kim, D. J., Lee, Y., Rho, S., & Lim, Y. K. (2016, May). Design opportunities in three stages of relationship development between users and self-tracking devices. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 699-703).

  • Lomborg, S., Langstrup, H., & Andersen, T. O. (2020). Interpretation as luxury: Heart patients living with data doubt, hope, and anxiety. Big Data & Society, 7(1).