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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ShapeUp Club brings deep nutrition data to the Health Graph

ShapeUp Club (@shapeup_club), one of the top three teams from last month’s Health Hack Day in Stockholm, recently launched the integration of their popular calorie counter with the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi). Learn how users of RunKeeper, ShapeUp Club, and other Health Graph partner apps such as Withings (@withings) are all benefitting from the collaboration.

BD: Please tell us about yourself and ShapeUp Club.

ShapeUp Club: Hi! We are Tove and Martin, the founders of ShapeUp Club. We built the original ShapeUp Club app back in 2008 as a side project during our studies in computer science (Martin) and biomedicine (Tove). By combining our knowledge we created ShapeUp Club – an interactive calorie counter that you carry in your pocket. A winning concept when it comes to weight loss.

In the beginning we planned to run this project in parallel with work and school. But we realized pretty fast that wouldn’t work, ShapeUp Club demanded too much time. The hobby became our job (hurray!) and today we are a team of five people working fulltime on ShapeUp Club.

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

SC: ShapeUp Club is a calorie counter for iPhone, Android, and web. Get a personal weight loss plan, track nutrition, exercise, and weight. Get shaped up with ShapeUp Club now!

BD: Can you tell us a bit about your users? How many do you have? How active are they? What kinds of things do they do with ShapeUp Club?

SC: Our app has been downloaded more than 1.7 million times. We have achieved top 10 App Store-placements in countries all over the world. ShapeUp Club has more than 350,000 active users per month and we are growing with 5,000 new members a day.

Daily feedback from our users proves our concept: The average users loses about 9 lbs. We also have a lot of success stories about users who lost more than 100 lbs. (Wow!)

Based on body features (such as weight and height), age, and daily activity level, ShapeUp Club calculates a personal weight loss plan for each user. The user then follows this plan by tracking what they eat and how much they exercise every day. A color-coordinated calorie bar visually displays how many more or fewer calories the user should eat each day to reach their target weight. A yellow bar indicates you should keep eating (need more calories for your goal), a green bar indicates you’ve eaten the perfect amount for the day, and a red bar indicates you’ve eaten too much that day.

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

SC: We attended Health Hack Day in Stockholm in May. Bill Day from RunKeeper was there to present on the Health Graph platform and serve as a jury member at the hackathon. We had already heard a lot about the API, and were excited to try it out.

During the hack we created ShapeUp Club Challenge, which would let the ShapeUp Club users connect, compete, and compare progress with each other. The API was super easy to integrate with our code, and we managed to create an app ready for launch in just twenty-four hours. The achievement placed us third in the competition.

A few weeks after the hackathon and our first encounter with the Health Graph, we are proud to announce that ShapeUp Club is now connected to Health Graph! As a first step we are letting our users import their RunKeeper and Withings data into ShapeUp Club, as well as upload their nutrition information from ShapeUp Club into the Health Graph.

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

SC: The combination of ShapeUp Club (nutrition tracking), RunKeeper (exercise tracking), and Withings (weight tracking) is perfect for people who wish to lose weight. Nutrition, exercise, and weight are the three key values people consider when trying to lose weight. By making the tracking of these three factors friction free we believe we are one step closer to the creation of the perfect and sustainable weight loss service. Our users have asked for this possibility for some time now, and we are so happy to finally be able to provide them with this.

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

SC: We are one of the first partners who will share deep, personalized nutrition information with the Health Graph. We are also letting our users access weight and exercise information from other apps as mentioned above.

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

SC: The possibilities to very easily combine different services with your own service and health tool is perfect. The API is easy to use and fast to integrate. The only change we would like to see is more focus on the nutrition part of the Health Graph. There’s a lot of more information we could share with the Health Graph if some additional fields were included in the API.

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

SC: We are planning integration and partnerships with other great Health Graph integrated services.

We also want to improve ShapeUp Club core features. Integration of social tools is a next step, bringing our users closer together, making it possible to interact, motivate, and share information with each other. We believe this will create a whole new weight loss experience. Challenges, recipes, and groups are other things we are planning.

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

SC: If you are serious about losing weight, ShapeUp Club is the perfect tool to help. It’s knowledge, inspiration, and motivation in your pocket. Download ShapeUp Club now and join our fast growing community! For news and more information about us, check out our blog at http://blog.shapeupclub.com/.

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


Health Hack Day howto

While this post is targeted at attendees of the 18-20 May 2012 Health Hack Day events in Stockholm, even if you’re not attending you still might find some useful Health Graph information and development tips. If you aren’t able to attend in person, you can also watch the livestream online.

Welcome Health Hack Day attendees and hackers!

You’re in for a great weekend of hacking, networking, and fun. And who knows, maybe even a prize at the end!

This post will walk you through the key information and procedures you need to use the Health Graph during the hackathon.

First up, here’s a copy of our Health Graph programming primer to get you going (click through the presentation and note that links are live):

AngelHack Health Graph 101

View more presentations from Bill Day

More details on some key points:

You can access more technical details on the RESTful Health Graph API by clicking here.

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

When you’re ready to get started building a Health Graph API application, 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, please request this permission on the form.

Note: Please include the official event hashtag, #hhd12, in your new application description and permission justification so we can address your request as quickly as possible.

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+.

Related content that may also interest you:

  • Click here to learn how to export your own user data from the Health Graph; useful for backups as well as parsing your data to re-upload into a test account via the Health Graph API.
  • The Healthy button allows you to easily embed the ability to share health and fitness related content on your site or blog into Health Graph users’ FitnessFeeds; click here to learn more about the Healthy button

Now that you know how to use the Health Graph, go build something great and win this thing! Happy hacking!

Health Hack Day

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


Health Graph tip: Test data options

This tip expands upon one of the slides in our “Health Graph Hacking 101” presentation (click here to access). You can work through the complete presentation embedded at the bottom of this post.

One question we often get from developers new to the Health Graph platform is “How can I create test data?”. Here are some ways you can get up and running quickly.

After you request developer Health Graph access, you have automatic read access to any data in your developer account. You can take advantage of that by using various free Health Graph apps to add data to your account. For example, you can record or manually enter:

Another way to add data to your developer account is to use an existing non-development account and Street Team tagging.

You can copy existing fitness activity data into your developer account by:

  1. Logging into an existing non-development account containing fitness activities.
  2. Adding your developer account as a Street Team member in your non-development account; you’ll need to make the request from the latter and then approve it from the former.
  3. For each activity you wish to copy from your non-development account into your developer account, tag the developer account from that activity’s page; this copies the activity data into your developer account.
  4. Optional: When you’re done tagging and copying data, you can remove the tags while in your developer account, then remove your non-development account from your developer account Street Team, to sever the linkages but keep the copied data.

One more option: You can export an existing user’s data (click here for details) then parse that data and write it back into your own developer account via the Health Graph API. In fact, doing so is very instructive as it requires you to explore several different aspects of the Health Graph platform.

The above options should give you plenty of ways to get test data together for your application. I hope this helps and happy health hacking!

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


Health Graph AngelHacking 101

While this post is targeted at attendees of the 3-5 March 2012 AngelHack developer events, even if you’re not attending you still might find some useful Health Graph information and development tips.

Welcome AngelHackers!

Whether you’re reading this in Boston or San Francisco, you’re in for a great weekend of hacking, networking, and fun. And who knows, maybe even a great prize at the end!

This post will walk you through the key information and procedures you need to use the Health Graph during the hackathon.

First up, here’s a copy of the Health Graph programming primer we’re presenting onsite to get you going (click through the presentation and note that links are live):

AngelHack Health Graph 101

View more presentations from Bill Day

More details on some key points:

You can access a technical overview of the RESTful Health Graph API by clicking here.

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

When you’re ready to get started building a Health Graph API application, 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.

Note: Please include the appropriate city-specific hashtag, #angelHackSF or #angelHackBOS, in your new application description and Read permission justification so we can address your request as quickly as possible.

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 file issues in our support form. You can also reach our team on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Related content that may also interest you:

  • Click here to learn how to export your own user data from the Health Graph; useful for backups as well as parsing your data to re-upload into a test account via the Health Graph API.
  • The Healthy button allows you to easily embed the ability to share health and fitness related content on your site or blog into Health Graph users’ FitnessFeeds; click here to learn more about the Healthy button

Now that you know how to use the Health Graph, go build something great and win this thing! Happy hacking!

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