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.


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.