The Saga of your life

The Saga (@GetSaga) lifelogging app brings RunKeeper (@runkeeper) activities into a user’s location-based view of their life’s activities. Jeremy Bensley (@jbensley) walks us through how A.R.O., Inc. (@arodotcom), makers of Saga, use the Health Graph platform (@healthgraphapi) to show the saga of your life.

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your work.

Jeremy Bensley

Jeremy Bensley: I’m the Director of Server Development at A.R.O., Inc. Running the platform development team means I’m involved with many tasks on a daily basis, but at my core I’m a data guy, and specifically I love tracking my movements, my activities, and my habits. My background is in machine learning, natural language processing, and making sense of lots and lots of (often noisy) output from sensors. Aside from managerial duties my primary tasks for Saga are the time segmentation of the LifeLog and integration with external APIs such as RunKeeper’s Health Graph API.

A.R.O. is a great place to work. We think the sensors in your smartphone can be used to power a wide range of awesome app experiences. Everything from contextually-aware systems like Google Now to virtual personal assistants like Siri, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface on this potential.

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use Saga?

JB: Saga is a location lifelog. It creates a diary of your life based on where you go. The beauty of Saga is that it does this without requiring much attention from the user. Different people will like different aspects of Saga: Perhaps you will use it to figure out how to optimize your commute to work, or how you run your errands. Or as a beautiful way to tell the story of your amazing weekend.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

JB: We wanted to include health details as part of the Saga lifelog. A first step is including information such as the details of your run from RunKeeper. For many runners, running is a part of your life, more than just the numbers of the run (distance, time, pace, etc). It’s about getting out to a unique location, having an amazing run or race, meeting up with fellow runners at the pub afterward, and basically just having a wonderful weekend.

And Health Graph users aren’t tracking just runs or other forms of exercise. Right now we’re focusing on run information, but soon we will incorporate other measurements available in Health Graph platform such as body measurements and food intake.

BD: How will the Health Graph platform benefit your business?

JB: People who use the Health Graph through a number of tools have already established a form of lifelogging practice, just very focused. We think they will be familiar with lifelogging in general, and appreciate the additional context that Saga will provide to their existing logging practice.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?

JB: For our initial integration we are pulling the FitnessActivityFeed and associated FitnessActivities to display a summary of a user’s workout in their lifelog. We have plans in our roadmap for expanding upon this to include other activity feeds and eventually allow people to post into some of these feeds using data from Saga.

Saga screenshot

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph API? What would you like to see changed?

JB: It’s an amazingly comprehensive platform for tracking all of the health-related aspects of your life, and it’s fantastic that RunKeeper places such a strong emphasis and dedication to making this the best API for health tracking. My only complaint as a developer would be the lack of API versioning, or if it exists documentation on its usage. [Editor’s note: Please monitor “revisions” via this blog for updates and modifications to the Health Graph API and platform.]

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph platform, what would it be? How would you use it?

JB: I believe the Health Graph platform provides an amazingly comprehensive health tracking API. Nonetheless I’d like to see extra data to allow for timestamp normalization, by including either a UTC timestamp or the user’s timezone in the activity data.

BD: Can you share any future plans for Saga? What’s coming next that people will be excited about? Does the Health Graph platform play a role in that, and if so, how?

JB: In the future, Saga will incorporate more logging services (for example, a service to track mood, menstrual cycle, music listening) to include in the lifelog. The Health Graph platform will certainly be a part of that, as right now we have a very small subset of it included.

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist & PM for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph platform.

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Lose weight faster with DietBet and your friends

DietBet (@dietbet) enables runners and other RunKeeper (@runkeeper) users to lose weight socially by challenging their friends to a fun weight loss competition. Below we discuss how DietBet uses the Health Graph API & platform (@healthgraphapi) to help motivate people and keep their weight loss journeys fun.

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your work.

Adam McClean of DietBet

Adam McClean: I’ve been a product manager for almost eight years with a primary focus in e-commerce and consumer brands. I’m also training for a mini marathon later this year.

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use DietBet?

AM: DietBet is the best way to jumpstart your weight loss and access the support necessary for success. It’s a great mix of behavioral economics (loss aversion and financial incentives), community, and accountability. Players put money on the line and commit to losing 4% of their starting weight in 4 weeks. During the game players make friends, talk smack, and track their progress as they approach their goal. Everyone who reaches the 4% goal ends up splitting the pot — and making some extra money!

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

AM: I’ve been using RunKeeper and saving my personal data to the Health Graph for a long time. After I participated in my first DietBet, it was clear the two should integrate.

BD: How will the Health Graph platform benefit your business?

AM: Running and weight loss have a symbiotic relationship: Losing weight helps you improve your running time and running helps you burn calories and lose weight. Players who connect with RunKeeper will be able to send weight updates and running activities directly into their DietBet game. Also, any weight updates made on DietBet will be saved back to the player’s Health Graph account.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?

AM: Since DietBet players are required to submit their weight in order to play the game, we wanted to allow them to do this from both DietBet and RunKeeper. We are using Weight Measurements to get/post all of the weight data. We are also grabbing running details from Fitness Activities, so other players can see the hard work being done to help a player make their 4% goal.

DietBet screenshot

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph API?

AM: We love the simple approach to tracking changes using Root Resource and Change Log. This lowers the overhead on our end and lets us post activities and weight updates within minutes.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph platform, what would it be? How would you use it?

AM: Most weight data is inputted manually using the honor code. Because we have a team of referees and a photo-based verification solution, we’d like to be able to indicate when weight entries are “verified” vs “manual” the same way you can specify a “tracked” vs “manual” fitness entry.

BD: Can you share any future plans for DietBet? What’s coming next that people will be excited about?

AM: We’re hoping to expand beyond the current game (4% in 4 weeks) and allow users to play games with longer timelines and larger weight loss goals. We also want to reward players for maintaining their weight or establishing healthy habits.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or DietBet?

AM: Organize a game today and use promo code HEALTHGRAPH. If you get 8+ other players into the game, we’ll refund your bet!

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist & PM for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph platform.


Validating tracked versus manual fitness activities using the Health Graph API

One question we receive fairly often from Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) partners is how to validate that fitness activities (runs, walks, bike rides, etc.) read out of the Health Graph platform were GPS-tracked versus manually entered by the user. Rewards partners a la Earndit and GymPact, corporate wellness providers like Virgin HealthMiles, and forward-thinking brands are often keen to differentiate between tracked versus manually entered activities as part of their programs’ anti-fraud efforts.

So how do you tell the difference between GPS and manual activities?

Each item in the Fitness Activity feed has ‘source‘, ‘entry_mode‘, and ‘has_path‘ fields. These let you determine whether the activity was originally submitted as a GPS-tracked activity. For example, a RunKeeper (@runkeeper) mobile app GPS-tracked run should have values of “RunKeeper“, “API“, and “true” for the aforementioned fields, respectively.

Health Graph fitness activity documentation

If you are interested in including GPS-tracked sources from other Health Graph partners’ activity trackers, you can include them in your ‘source‘ filtering. In addition, if you need to differentiate by type of activity (i.e. running, walking, cycling, etc.) you can use the ‘type‘ field.

Using these fields should let you skip any activities for which the user simply entered statistics, or originally entered the route map (path) via the Web. For more details on these fields and their usage, please refer to the Health Graph fitness activities documentation, especially the array structures section.

Caveat: The only reliable way to verify whether a user has subsequently edited the map associated with a saved GPS-tracked activity is to manually check each point’s ‘type‘ (a value of “manual” means it has been edited). For efficiency’s sake, we don’t save that information anywhere else in the Health Graph platform and we retrieve points only when full data for the activity is requested. That said, we have found that most users do not edit maps after the fact.

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist & PM for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


RunKeeper hackathon recap

What happens when you give the RunKeeper crew two days to let imaginations run wild? A whole lot of awesome, I tell ya!

Our product team is always five steps ahead in terms of planning awesome updates to the app, but in the process, it seems each developer has some sort of other dream RunKeeper project they’d love work on if given the time. We decided to set two work days aside for engineers (and others throughout the company) to try to bring those to reality.

The community had lots of interesting ideas on what would make it into our first-ever hackathon, and many of the resulting hacks lined up with your hopes! There was a simple start widget for the home and lock screens on Android, much-improved data visualizations for your fitness reports, refreshed technology for GPS tracking, in-app strength training tracking, a pretty new website, and some ridiculously fun and motivating audio cues. And a few other things that are internal and top secret—for now :).

We’re cranking hard to turn some of these hacks into actual RunKeeper updates and features, so stay tuned! And in the meantime, the pictures and videos below are definitely worth (more than a) thousand words.

Kicking off some collaboration

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Jacked Jim gears up for his commercial debut in the RoidKeeper strength training promotional video

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This team gave a whole new meaning to the term long hours. (And garnished some awesome prizes in the process)

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Makers of the aforementioned awesome audio cues hack demo their goods

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A little hack to get some more real-time insights into our community

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Working to build the perfect GPS algorithm

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And this video really speaks to the need for that widget hack

One of our many rocking trophies

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Cross-posted from the RunKeeper blog.


RunKeeper at Quantified Self

While this post is targeted at attendees of the September 2012 Quantified Self conference in Palo Alto, even if you’re not attending you still might find some useful Health Graph information and development tips.

Welcome Quantified Self attendees and hackers! You’re in for a great weekend of learning and networking. And hopefully plenty of fun!

This post will walk you through RunKeeper and Health Graph platform related Quantified Self sessions, then provide key information and procedures you need to use the Health Graph.

Here are the sessions where I’ll be representing RunKeeper:

  • “Hacking APIs” breakout session, Saturday 10:30AM – Beau Gunderson (@beaugunderson) of Singly and I will be discussing APIs for self quantification and hackery. We hope to have a lively discussion with you and each other, examining APIs for QS from every angle.
  • RunKeeper & Health Graph office hour, Saturday 1:30PM – I’ll be available to discuss Health Graph development and answer any questions you may have.

I will also be attending as many of our partners’ sessions as I can, while hopefully having lots of time to share ideas and make new connections. Please contact me (@billday) if you’d like to get together at the conference.

To prepare for the conference, or begin using the Health Graph directly on your own, you should start by watching this high level overview of the Health Graph platform:

For a quick primer on developing with the Health Graph API, click through the more technical presentation below:

Health Graph Hacking 101

View more presentations from Bill Day

All Health Graph partners are required to follow the Health Graph API Policies.

You can access more technical details on the RESTful Health Graph API by clicking here. Experiment and prototype with the API using the Health Graph Developer’s Console (click here to load the console).

When you’re ready to start your app in earnest, visit the RunKeeper Partner page and click “Connect To Our API“. From there you can fill out the form to register your new Health Graph integrated app, service, or device.

Click here to learn about authorization removal callbacks before providing your callback URL on the form. If you will be reading data out of the Health Graph for accounts other than your own app registering account, you should also request Read permission on the form, being sure you give a detailed explanation of what you will do with that data once you’ve accessed it. Likewise, if you would like to ask users for permission to retain their Health Graph data across deauthorizations and/or edit health information for authorizing users, please request permission(s) on the form.

Need some inspiration to get your developer juices flowing? Check out some of the applications built and deployed using the Health Graph API, available from the RunKeeper Apps page (click here). You can also access an archive of third party libraries, wrappers, and bindings which might make your Health Graph API-based development easier by clicking here. And there’s more information on how app and library partners are taking advantage of the Health Graph via our Health Graph partner profiles series on the blog.

When you encounter issues, you can ask questions and join in the developer conversation by visiting the Health Graph discussion group. You can also reach our team on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

One more tip: Click here to learn how to export your own user data from the Health Graph; useful for programmable self hacks as well as backups and parsing your data to re-upload into a test account via the Health Graph API.

Now that you know how to use the Health Graph, go build something great!

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


Earn discounts with your favorite retailers from Bank of Fitness

Bank of Fitness (@bankoffitness) turns your workouts into discounts from your favorite retailers. Learn how and why Bank of Fitness chose to use the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) to access out-of-gym workout data from RunKeeper (@runkeeper), opening up a new world of potential savings for exercising consumers.

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and Bank of Fitness.

Corey Draffen: I created Bank of Fitness (BoF) because of the severe lack of motivation there is for the average person to exercise and lead a healthier life.

Bank of Fitness is motivating the world to be healthier. We plan to keep people exercising by providing motivation through real-life rewards. Exercise at a gym or using a mobile fitness app and Bank of Fitness will automatically award you points redeemable for free items and valuable discounts at great retailers. The more you exercise, the more points you earn. The more points you earn, the more you save!

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use your app?

CD: Workout. Get Rewarded! It’s that simple.

BD: Can you tell us a bit about your users? What kinds of things do they do with Bank of Fitness?

CD: Our beta users have tracked more than 1500 workouts and redeemed rewards for Target gift cards, Visa gift cards, and some special discounts with retailers. We are in the process of partnering with gym management software companies to reward millions of users for going to the gym every day.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

CD: We reviewed the Health Graph API documentation, then did a proof of concept to explore how an integration would work. We are excited to see it moving forward! BankOfFitness.com is now ready with end-to-end integration with RunKeeper.

BD: How is using the Health Graph benefiting your business?

CD: RunKeeper’s Health Graph keeps track of fitness activities for users. Fitness activity feeds enable us to reward RunKeeper users every time they workout.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph platform? What would you like to see changed?

CD: We like how the platform keeps track of different type of activities; it’s not just limited to cardio exercise.

Having access to comprehensive API documentation that’s simple to understand has been really helpful, too. And when our QA team identified issues while integrating with the user registration process, the RunKeeper team was very responsive. We appreciate the quick turnaround.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

CD: Currently we have to ask users to register with BoF after RunKeeper Registration/Sign In. This is because the Health Graph API does not return user email addresses. This two-step registration process will likely increase the drop-out of first time users. If there were a way to get the email address of users who authorized RunKeeper access to BoF, it would be a very helpful feature.

BD: Can you share any future plans for Bank of Fitness? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?

CD: Our near term plan is to integrate with fitness club management software companies so we can reward people working out at gyms. The Health Graph will play an important role, since we want those millions of gym members to also track their workout activities outside of the gym.

We have some exclusive discounts from retailers and are in-process on building new relationships that will result in even more exciting gifts and discounts for our users.

We have also created BoF APIs for use by fitness club management software companies. We are in partnership conversations with club management software companies to use our APIs.

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


Get smart about your running with CleverRun

CleverRun (@cleverrun) helps you understand what you’re capable of doing during running races. It uses your recent RunKeeper recorded running activities to show you information about your previous runs. More importantly, it uses those previous runs to make some smart predictions about how long it will take you to run future races of varying distances from 5k to marathon. Read this profile to learn more about how CleverRun uses the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) to read in the data needed for its predictions and charting.

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your work.

Richard Cunningham: My background is in Linux system administration and web programming. I’ve been interested in getting data from APIs for a while and I’ve created a few things using them.

Last year, I started running with the goal of running a 10K race. I wasn’t able to do a 10K race last year due to injury and kept to shorter distances as a result. I run in the Parkrun series of races, which are free 5K timed runs held every Saturday morning, mostly in the U.K. but also in a few other countries now.

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use CleverRun?

RC: CleverRun is a simple way to analyse your performance from recent runs.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

RC: I was tracking my runs in RunKeeper, though I found the website wasn’t displaying my past runs in the way I found most useful. I am most interested in tracking how fast I am running. I created CleverRun as a way to explore better ways to display my runs. I showed what I had done to my brother, who is also a runner, and he liked it, so I released it for others to use.

BD: How is using the Health Graph benefiting you?

RC: The Health Graph is benefiting me by giving me an easy way get at all of my running data. Hopefully it is helping other CleverRun users too!

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?

RC: I mostly use the fitness feed at the moment, because the key information I need for CleverRun is there and I can simply fetch all of a user’s runs in one query.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?

RC: The Health Graph is easy to understand and well documented so that’s what I like about it.

I would like to see some data added to it, like your friend’s latest runs and anything really that is available via the website.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

RC: Getting the details of runs completed using the coaching feature of the mobile apps would be useful, so I can analyse people’s interval training and display it to them.

BD: Can you share any future plans for your app? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?

RC: I’m working on better indicating how the performance of your last run was in comparison to previous runs. Also, several users have sent me suggestions already and I am working how to best fix those issues.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?

RC: The RunKeeper team have been very supportive. I’m interested in suggestions for further improvements from users of CleverRun and there is a link on the CleverRun page (when logged in) so users can send me suggestions or report problems.

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.