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A peek inside Exist, our quantifed self app close to launch (exist.io)
54 points by joshsharp on Jan 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

We actually applied to the last round of YC a few months ago with Exist but didn't make it. We've since taken a look at our approach, which was too broad, and decided to focus on health and fitness first before we gradually scale up to integrating with everything we can and tracking every aspect of your life. Gotta start small. We're also resigned to bootstrapping for the moment and will probably introduce pro accounts soon after launch too.

Hi! Your product looks very nice - not for me - but the design and overall feel is well done. I have some intimate knowledge of how these apps fail however and thought I'd heed warning. Once people get over the initial analysis part they'll slowly start winding down their use. So you'll have to introduce some feature (down the road) that gets people to consistently use the app over a long period of time. I don't have a specific answer on this, it's just something to start thinking about and try to get feedback on as early as possible.

I would really love to help support you guys anyway I can. If you're in the bay area in april, come out to Hackendo (http://hackendo.techendo.co). Let me know how I can help.

Nice work. I like that you included the correlations with confidence score in the MVP.

1) What about adding RescueTime? 2) Where can I sign up?

Thanks! If you click through to the home page via the header link, there's a sign up form at the bottom.

Rescue Time and some productivity trackers are coming once we're happy we've done a decent job on our initial focus of health and fitness. Which is hopefully not too far off.

I don't quite see the problem this app is solving (beyond initial curiosity). Some wild ideas, not necessarily good ones:

* Everybody knows enough sleep is a good thing, but not everybody has a productivity chart to make its importance visceral.

* Provide early warning signs to rest before you get migraine. Common triggers are stress, hunger, fatigue, hormone levels (medication), indoor air quality and lighting. A common early warning sign is an unusual appetite. The facts are known, but their importance varies and not everybody is sufficiently self-aware.

* Automatic goal tracking for Beeminder, because that increases the chance you achieve your goals.

* Prevent procrastination: Is it possible to infer mood from your data, e.g. movement patterns, after some initial training? (The food industry can measure feelings amazingly well in their food design labs.) I know I'm much more likely to procrastinate when I'm low on energy. Right now, I'm trying to notice that earlier and take a break or fix the underlying problem.

Thanks for posting.

I'm keen to adopt Quantified Self strategies. It's more important, valuable as you get older.

I bought an Omron 10 blood pressure cuff. It has a USB port and some Windows software. I'm a Mac user. Figuring out how to slurp the measurements is on my to do list. I hope you're considering supporting home health monitors. Glucose monitors, BP, weight, etc.

I've been looking for a passive sleep monitor. The FitBit I own requires me to start and stop the timer. Meh. I've tried the SleepCycle app. Haven't embraced it yet.

Anyway. Good luck. You're doing important work.

Withings has a wireless blood pressure cuff, and makes the data available through a Web API for services like exist.io.

BodyMedia's FIT detects when you lie down and get up (so no need to push any buttons), and you don't need to transfer the device into an awkward wrist strap (since you're wearing it on your upper arm).

The new jawbone UP24 is similar in that you need to push a button but if you forget to manually do it, it asks you later if you want to count those immobile hours as sleep. Works pretty well by measuring deep sleep, light sleep and awake time along with counting steps etc.

I recently got a My Basis watch for this, works pretty well, and soon there should be more advanced sleep tracking as well. Really interesting to have an continuous heart-rate tracker, you can tell how much impact having a cold can have on your entire body for instance...

Looks nice. I'd definitely use this (just signed up for the beta) but I'd be interested in hearing how you intend to use this data and how my privacy will be protected.

Nice looking application, but you are collecting a ton of personal data without any indication of your intent. You really need a terms of use somewhere, especially if you plan is to collect all of this data and sell it (which could be very valuable). Even if you aren't sure, a good policy will give you that ability without the risk of bad PR and a knock on your door from some regulator.

Now pardon me, but what's the value of any of those measures?

Holy moly! This month I've slept 285 hours. So what?

Heck! You took a hell of a lot of steps lately, you should pace yourself man, you don't wanna wear out those heels, now, do you?

Is that what you had in mind when you decided this was really the best way to spend your precious time?

The value is this:

Presuppose that you believe there is value in doing more, or less, of certain things. And that you have a way to measure the amount of those things that you do, either manually or via some passive monitor. Quantification can help you in your efforts to change your behaviours by making them measurable and less subject to the vagaries of bias and memory failure.

For example, if you felt that it was a total waste of your time and energy to write snarky comments on the interweb which appear to be written from a place of intentional ignorance, you could wire a monitor up to your downvotes and over time aim to minimize your negativity by making an effort to think about ideas from multiple perspectives, or by doing some background reading to cure yourself of the "confusing to me" == "stupid" virus.

A more common use might be "how many miles have I run this week?" "Do I have more productive days after running, or after a good sleep, or both?". Unlike the "don't be a jerk unnecessarily" monitor, these are more informative when you can look at lots of data, because the causes and effects are more complicated and often intertwined.

Sort of a blunt way to put it - but I agree.

The biggest problem with all these QS apps & wearables is it gives me TONS of really beautiful, useless data.

There's no action steps:

- no "you sleep optimally when going to bed at X and waking up at Y"

- no "you need to walk 15,000 steps for the next two months to hit your weight loss goal.

QS is a start - but there needs to be some sort of data interpretation for this stuff to be useful.

The problem isn't the data, it's the services, which for the most part are geared towards motivating and entertaining you, not helping you interpret your data.

One reason for this is that the human body is too complex (and the data too incomplete) for simplistic advice like "walk x steps per day to reach weight y".

You're also unlikely to discover a novel correlation that can be used to lose weight (and write a book and get rich)... But what you can do is use your data to determine which known solutions are working for you, and which are not (e.g. do I really sleep better when going to bed before midnight, all else being equal?).

I'm eager to see how exist.io handles all of this! (I run another service in this space, zenobase.com)

Sure, and actionable insights are the end goal. It's not at all about the numbers, but making sense of them. However that's not something we can implement overnight, but something we're working towards once we have the aggregation implemented.

Wait for the future. That diabetics contact lens will be the new Google Glass. Machines will know what you're doing (no more RescueTime on the desktop for example). We aren't just getting enough data: but if you hired someone to follow you around 24/7 and note everything you did you would. After a year, imagine how useful that data would be. And please encrypt it securely. Health insurance companies will have a field day.

You can't manage what you don't measure.

High level RescueTime integration would be nice, even with a health focus. Knowing how many hours I spend in front of a computer is a big thing.

Hey, you're the guy who founded RescueTime! Sure, that makes sense. We'll probably prioritise it for integration after launch. Love to chat about it if you have an interest.

Will I be able to get an export/backup of all my aggregated data (as files)? I'd pay for that service alone. Something like CloudPull for my QS data.

Bad. Fucking. Idea. They need to pay users for using this. Our data is FAR too valuable.

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