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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IronApp: Connecting triathletes via the Health Graph and Facebook

This week we turn our Health Graph partner profile gaze upon IronApp (@ironapp), the “Home for Triathletes on Facebook”. Learn how founder Tyson Miller (@tysonmiller) enriches IronApp’s community of triathletes using the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi).

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and IronApp.

Tyson Miller: Being an Ironman triathlete and a web entrepreneur for many years, I always wondered why there weren’t any real social networks for triathletes, particularly focusing on the half and iron distances. It’s because of this that we built IronApp over the past year. We launched in December 2010 with a pretty simple app and have grown to around 50,000 athletes over the past year.

BD: Why would someone use IronApp?

TM: IronApp enables triathletes to keep a race portfolio and see which people on Facebook are doing these races. This hasn’t been done on Facebook before. In addition to this, athletes can also train with their Facebook friends and see which friend is training the most. Lastly, we have groups for each race on our app and athletes doing the same races can easily share information within these groups.

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

TM: I have been using RunKeeper for quite a while and I think it’s a great product. I always knew that within RunKeeper’s large user-base there were probably a lot of triathletes that would love to interact with other triathletes registered for the same races. Our users were also looking for the perfect tool to track their training while still using our app. When the Health Graph API was launched we knew that it would be great for us.

BD: How has using the Health Graph benefited your business?

TM: In addition to increasing the value of our offering, the Health Graph has gotten our app a large amount of exposure. This exposure has been invaluable to us.

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

TM: Currently we are pulling training data from the API and tying it to our athletes’ upcoming triathlons. This enables users signed up for the same races to see each other’s training and how it’s progressing. This is very helpful for our athletes, particularly when training for long Ironman races.

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

TM: So far everything has been great…off the top of my head there is nothing else that we would need!

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

TM: We are really interested in getting real-time location data and seeing what can be done with done with that. I think it would be great if some of our triathletes could be notified if another IronApp-using triathlete that was participating in the same race was nearby.

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?

TM: We are currently coming up with a game plan for the future and we definitely see the Health Graph as a part of that. Training sessions and training data will be further integrated into IronApp and for that we will continue to utilize the Health Graph API. Spatial data might also have a place in our app in the future!

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?
TM: Our mission is to provide the best app for triathletes online and we are going to continue to work very hard to fulfill that mission. We look forward to continuing to work alongside RunKeeper with the Health Graph API.

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