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.


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.


GymPact pays you for exercising with RunKeeper

GymPact (@gympact) from Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) partner Pact helps motivate your exercise with cold, hard cash. With GymPact‘s Health Graph integration, qualifying RunKeeper tracked running, walking, and biking activities can be turned into money in your pocket. Read on to learn how GymPact motivates healthy behavior using the Health Graph.


Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and Pact.
Yifan Zhang: A classic dormroom to startup story, I co-founded Pact with my Harvard classmate Geoff Oberhofer. We were both fascinated by a behavioral economics principle that people are motivated much more by loss than rewards.

We decided to first tackle the specific problem of getting people to the gym more often, and launched GymPact on January 1st, 2012.

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use GymPact?
YZ: Do you pay for an expensive gym membership but can never find the time to use it? GymPact is an iPhone app that lets you earn cash rewards for checking in at the gym, paid for by non-exercisers!

You can make a Pact to work out, choose how much money you’ll put on the line to motivate you, and earn cash when you meet your Pact. Our over 45,000 GymPact users are 90% successful at getting to the gym on committed days.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?
YZ: Ever since we launched, our users have asked to count outdoor activities (runs, walks, bike rides) toward their Pact. The Health Graph platform has allowed us to easily partner with awesome products like RunKeeper to give our users a feature they wanted.

BD: How is using the Health Graph benefiting your business?
YZ: We announced our integration with the Health Graph a few weeks before the launch, and the response was overwhelming! We had over 1,000 people sign up for our beta list on the first day, and tons more likes/RT’s on social media.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?
YZ: Right now, we are pulling RunKeeper GPS-tracked activities from the API so that we can automatically count them toward GymPacter’s Pacts.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?
YZ: The integration was so simple! There were very few bugs, which allowed us to focus on the product and experience rather than the engineering challenges of integration. We see no changes needed for the current version of what we’re doing.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?
YZ: We would like to have verified activities marked specifically, since we would like to pull data from other Health Graph-integrated apps as well as RunKeeper.

BD: Can you share any future plans for Pact? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?
YZ: One big thing is that we have an Android app now in private beta! You can sign up for it on our homepage or here. Also, we’re looking to partner with other health apps to incentivize verified healthy activities. The Health Graph is huge for making those partnerships simple!

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


Vitogo: A personal trainer in your pocket

We recently spoke with Arel English (@arelenglish), CEO and co-founder of Vitogo (@myvitogo), about their integration with the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) and how being a Health Graph partner is benefiting their business. Read on to learn about how Vitogo recreates what a personal trainer does for you using your iOS device and the web.

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

Arel English: Fitness has always been a really important part of my life and is something I struggled with as a kid. In college, first as an athlete and later as a coach, I learned the importance of strength training for health and fitness and achieving meaningful results. The problem is that strength training is really complicated and intimidating, so we created Vitogo to make strength training easy and fun.

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

AE: Strength training is a really important part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it help you look better, it’s also an important part of weight loss, reducing your risk of injury, and increasing bone density. The problem is knowing how to strength train effectively. Vitogo makes it simple. Just like a personal trainer, Vitogo assesses your fitness level and goals to give you a tailored workout program that evolves with you. It coaches you through every step of your workout, tracks your progress, and keeps you motivated with the support of your friends, other users, and rewards.

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

AE: As an avid RunKeeper user before the idea for Vitogo even existed, I used to complain that my strength training workouts didn’t count toward anything on my RunKeeper account, so when we decided to build Vitogo, the first thing we wanted to do was look into how we could have our workouts post to RunKeeper so we could get credit for all our hard work. At the time, the Health Graph API hadn’t been announced, so we were pretty excited to learn about it when we first reached out to RunKeeper about the possibility of integrating Vitogo.

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

AE: The Health Graph is a great way to aggregate everything active we’re doing online. Just like how Facebook made it easy for new services to seamlessly share information socially across the web, the Health Graph has made it really easy to seamlessly share healthy activity. Sharing healthy activity and being able to aggregate it and see the big picture makes Vitogo that much better a product, and is something we are really excited about!

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

AE: Right now we’re just publishing to the Fitness Feed and pulling Vitogo users’ RunKeeper activities. We want to quickly expand to sending calories burned and strength training statistics to the Health Graph so our users can get a more integrated experience.

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

AE: Being able to fully integrate Vitogo, a heart rate monitor, a swimming tracker, and tons of other stuff that I use to track my activities is hugely powerful, that’s what I love about the Health Graph. I’m looking forward to being able to see exactly what each service is going to publish to RunKeeper, and pull from RunKeeper, so I know for example if Vitogo is going to update my total number of calories burned, and number of activities done that month.

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

AE: Having the ability to control how individual apps post to the fitness feed would be an awesome extension of the Health Graph. We would like Vitogo to be able to post simple stories about a user’s strength training workout with the same type of control you have when deciding how your app posts to Facebook or Twitter.

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?

AE: We are really excited about getting users using Vitogo and giving us feedback on what they love, and what we can do better. We want to make sure that everyone using Vitogo feels confident and in control at the gym. We’re also going to continue to improve our Health Graph integration so our users get the best total picture of their fitness.

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

AE: Vitogo is an iPhone/ iPod Touch app and a website! Using Vitogo.com is as much a part of the experience as using the app!

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


Nexercise makes fitness fun with the Health Graph

Fitness games are an important and growing segment of the health and fitness landscape, and we’re very happy to have some several fantastic partners implementing games on top of the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi). Case in point: Nexercise (@nexercise), our featured partner this week.

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

Benjamin Young: I’ve been managing and delivering business and information technology solutions for the last twelve years. I love working on things that allow me to blend my creativity and entrepreneurial passion. I’ve worked in software development, product management executive positions and co-founded C.Y. Strategy, a boutique strategy and management-consulting firm focused on providing advisory services to early and mid-stage ventures. I’ve also worked on voice application systems and managed research in unstructured data analytics.

My latest venture, Nexercise aims to tackle obesity in America by turning fitness into a fun and interactive game. I originally conceived of the idea from personal frustrations with maintaining my weight while simultaneously working, going to school, and raising two children. Since the beta launch of Nexercise in August, the game has already grown to over 35,000 users.

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

BY: Nexercise makes fitness FUN. It’s a new and exciting way to get motivated, lose weight, and stay in shape. You can play with friends, earn rewards, defeat challenges, and track your progress on the largest fitness mobile interactive game of its kind.

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

BY: We reached out to RunKeeper and you were extremely helpful. Your team pointed us to some great resources, including an open source iOS project in Github that enabled us to speed up our development time. [Editor’s note: Our Health Graph libraries page links to that and other third party libraries, wrappers, and related tools.]

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

BY: The Health Graph adds a new level of analytics and tracking for our users. Nexercise is great at making a motivational game experience and collecting data from a user’s workouts. We did not, however, build out a set of tools to give the user detailed insight on more “quantified-self” metrics like the capabilities RunKeeper provides. The integration was a perfect fit on capabilities! We make fitness fun and RunKeeper makes fitness and health data insightful.

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

BY: Currently we allow users to link to the Health Graph and post their activities. This will enable them to get more insight into their fitness activities.

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

BY: We like the simplicity and ease of use. We’d like to see a full iOS SDK to speed up integration.

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

BY: We would love to see extended capabilities like interest discovery: You would recommend other users to connect, based on fitness level, location, interests, and activities.

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?

BY: We plan to expand functionality to provide Health Graph API users with additional customized game experiences based on their information. Additionally we will eventually allow users to get credit (experience points, virtual medals, and rewards) for activities not recorded using the Nexercise app.

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

BY: Yes. It’s currently available on the Apple App Store. We will be coming to Android soon, so if you have an Android phone please sign up for early access by clicking here.

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