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: 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.
BD: What do you like about the Health Graph API?
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!
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 ‘
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 “
API“, and “
true” for the aforementioned fields, respectively.
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 ‘
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.
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
Jacked Jim gears up for his commercial debut in the RoidKeeper strength training promotional video
This team gave a whole new meaning to the term long hours. (And garnished some awesome prizes in the process)
Makers of the aforementioned awesome audio cues hack demo their goods
A little hack to get some more real-time insights into our community
Working to build the perfect GPS algorithm
And this video really speaks to the need for that widget hack
One of our many rocking trophies
Cross-posted from the RunKeeper blog.
Running Club app (@runningclubapp) lets you do virtual runs (and bike rides and walks) with friends that are physically located elsewhere during the run. By integrating with the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi), Running Club has guaranteed that you can store and use your run data on your platform of choice and with other activity tracking apps such as RunKeeper’s own (@runkeeper).
Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your app.
Eric Piazza: I’ve been a software developer for a little over ten years.
Most people assume that I am also an avid runner, but actually the opposite is true: I have a hard time getting motivated to run. But this lack of motivation was actually the reason I got the idea for the app. I found that the only time I would get out and run consistently was when I had a “reason” to run. Joining a local running club with some friends was a great motivator, but with two young kids and work piling up, I found I was missing more and more runs. With all the technology available in mobile phones I thought “Why can’t I just run with my friends through the phone?”. I got together with some colleagues and about nine months later the “Running Club App” was born!
BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use your Running Club app?
EP: The Running Club app can be thought of as a “virtual running club” where people can schedule live, interactive runs with friends and other runners around the country. What makes Running Club unique from other apps is this live functionality, where users can actually see their progress compared to others during a run, and have a live group chat with everyone before and afterwards. Running Club uses a “dot race” style visualization to show how far everyone in the activity has run in real-time.
Note also that the Running Club app can also be used for other activities such as Cycling or Walking.
BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?
EP: I am also a RunKeeper user, and during our development I saw a newsletter featuring a handful of apps from the RunKeeper app section. I knew that integrating Running Club with Health Graph would be a great way to get existing RunKeeper users to use our app, while allowing them to continue to track their data using RunKeeper.
BD: How is using the Health Graph benefiting your business?
EP: The benefits of the Health Graph are obvious.
From our perspective, we are able to better reach our target audience, both through visibility on the RunKeeper app pages, and also through the Health Graph posts themselves. When a user posts a result from our app to the Health Graph, all of their friends can see they are using the Running Club app, and hopefully they will turn around and try it themselves. RunKeeper users benefit as well since they have the ability to use Running Club, but keep their run data in their existing system.
BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use?
EP: We use the feature for posting activity results.
BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?
EP: It’s a really innovative idea that allows smaller apps like us tap into the huge RunKeeper community.
The API was easy to use and integrate. The only change I’d like to see at the moment is to allow a post without actually providing activity data (an informational post). For example, for Facebook and Twitter, when someone signs up for an activity, they can automatically post information about the upcoming activity, something like “John is running 5K at 7:00 PM tonight, join him *live* in the Running Club App”. We are not able to make a similar post to the Health Graph platform because results information is required.
BD: Can you share any future plans for Running 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?
EP: We are currently working on Running Club 2.0, which will include some really neat new individual features as well as voice updates as you run.
BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?
EP: You really have to try a group run to fully appreciate the Running Club app. There is nothing else like our app on the market, and the social experience you get from running “with” your friends in other parts of the country, or meeting a new running partner is extremely satisfying.
To give you an example, the other day I was in a 5K run with a friend from New York, and a friend across the world in Dubai. I knew both these guys but they didn’t know each other. We ran a 5K, and they both finished within 5 seconds of each other (they left me in the dust). They liked the motivation that they got from each other and have been scheduling runs together on a regular basis since then.