Quantified Self ’15 (Day 1 Recap)

Above: Damien Catani, of Goalmap, provides a talk on tracking his dreams. 

This week I went from title town to title town, flying from Chicago to San Francisco to participate in the annual Quantified Self Conference.

The QS conference is a global event where engineers, designers, and leaders in the health and tech industries present their own self-tracking apps, services, and stories of self-discovery. There are over 1,000 advanced user attendees of the two-day conference and the number should double for the Expo, open to the public for free, on the third day.

Below is a quick-hit recap of takeaways and cool people to check out so give this a quick scroll and you’ll find something you like.


“Your behavior is the new device.” — Chris Dancy @servicesphere

The first talk I attended was by Chris Dancy, “the most connected human on earth.” It provided an instant impact as he talked about to design and use your devices mindfully and non-judgmentally. He broke down how we love to use systems and then fall into tying our identity to them. For instance, our feelings shouldn’t be dictated from a drop down menu. We have them all, and it’s just a matter of us choosing them.

Dancy is carrying out designing for inward compassion and using our own behavior as the new device through his upcoming app Compass. This may very well change our lives on another level. Compass is an interface for our lives that utilizes existing iPhone technology to aggregate your health, location, motions, to a beautifully designed application. First, you see your day, both past actions and predictive future actions (based on routine, etc.) over a map. Then you press a button to see it in a timeline and scrub through more detailed metrics about the weather or how many steps you took. And finally, the most intimate part of using Compass is the third click to view photos that the app automatically chooses for that part of the day. You then get encouraging reminders if the app detects you’ve been inactive, for instance, to get up ride a bike or call your best friend. I can’t wait to try the alpha version for myself and for Compass to keep developing as the next must-have app.


Skulpt uses the world’s first device to measure muscle quality and body fat.

One of the topics I wanted to find out more how apps and technology is getting involved in is tracking athlete performance. Skulpt is the first tool I encountered yesterday along that realm, but can be used for the everyday person. It’s the first device used to measure muscle quality. Essentially it measures the body fat and strength of your biceps, quads, calves, what have you and spits out a score — 100 is average, 115-130 above average, 130-145 is athletic, and >145 is sculpted. You can see the device measuring a man’s forearm in the top left photo. As you can assume then, the measurements can be tracked straight to your iPhone and studied over time to notice trends and areas in your body where you may need more work.  Skulpt is definitely a product and movement I hope grows more into the mainstream and if you’re a workout freak like myself, this device is certainly worth checking out.


Steven Zhang (@steven_q_zhang) talks concussions, headaches, sleep patterns at QS15.
Steven Zhang (@steven_q_zhang) talks concussions, headaches, sleep patterns at QS15.

The afternoon session featured a mix of ‘Show & Tell’ talks of about 10 minutes each and Lunch ‘Ignite’ talks that were 5 minutes each. Above, Steven Zhang was inspired to track his sleep and improve his diet to track his health and amount of headaches for months after receiving a concussion. This type of research and data is a refreshing reminder to take control of understanding yourself, especially as a topic like concussions is more and more debated in professional sports. You can also take sleep data, track your dreams, and analyze how they’re reflecting your life (like Damien Catani in the lead) or health and diet issues like understanding your gut a parasite happens to enter your system (like Mark Moschel below.)

@MarkMoschel speaks on gut health and asks the burning question for all QS projects...
@MarkMoschel speaks on gut health and asks the burning question for all QS projects…

And finally, the conference also offers a gallery that visually displays data through art. This particular piece caught my eye, along with the live art pink text being printed on a wall, automatically.

With that, I’m ready for Day 2 today as I head back to Fort Mason and that gorgeous view of the Golden Gate…

Quantified Self data as art.
Quantified Self data as art.
Alberto Frigo | Tiles of the things picked from the side-walk. Eventually these tiles can constitute a long new walk in which the trash collected from the sidewalk is elevated and centralized.
Alberto Frigo | Tiles of the things picked from the side-walk. Eventually these tiles can constitute a long new walk in which the trash collected from the sidewalk is elevated and centralized.
The Golden view from outside the conference on the pier. Spread your wings!
The Golden view from outside the conference on the pier. Spread your wings!


Big Sean opens recording studio at old high school

“One Man Can Change The World”?

Big Sean embodies his own song by giving back to his alma mater high school, Cass Tech in Detroit. The students raised their ACT scores as part of their deal with Sean, so with the help of adidas, he opened the Sean Anderson Studio of Infinite Possibilities at his old high school. That’s right, a recording studio! (And I love that name.)

Here’s Sean talking to the local news about the deep, personal meaning behind this one (it goes without saying.) Major applause for his efforts here. Wouldn’t it be cool if Detroit’s next rap star came from the Studio of Infinite Possibilities?

Up next for Sean musically: the video for “One Man Can Change The World”, in honor of his late grandma who served as one of the first African-American captains in WWII. Lookin’ forward to that.


Halley Hiatt “On & On” (Erykah Badu Cover)

There’s a whole new generation out there that may not be familiar with Erykah Badu’s 1997 Grammy-winning song “On & On” so let’s thank Halley Hiatt for reviving it with this dope new cover and visual to accompany it above.

Hiatt sings the notes with an easy flow, a voice that’s similar yet different than Badu’s, and inspires in the visual by showcasing some NYC culture. She tells NYLON:

1997 was a very influential year for me musically. I still get a lot of my inspiration from that era in R&B/Hip-hop even though it gets farther away from me. Rodney’s beat took me back to the times where I’d get together with friends to just watch music videos on MTV and BET.

Very cool. And very well-done. Watch above and remember one of the many gems of the lyrics below.

Peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned.

Bill Simmons “Last Call”

Man, thank you Reddit for the most obscure anything.

I stumbled on a link to Bill Simmons’ version of “Last Call”, in which he described his journey to land at ESPN over a 40 minute podcast a couple months ago… now perfectly set to the “Last Call” instrumental in the background. It’s not distracting and only adds to the motivation given Kanye’s infamous journey described on the College Dropout outro.

For any sports fan or writer out there, you’ll most definitely be inspired by Bill’s story and since you’re here, you’re also a Kanye West fan too so this mix should be perfect.

Oh, and of course, HBD Kanye!

UNIFY Global Meditation at Lightning In A Bottle

Unify.org held an incredible global meditation experience at this year’s Lightning In A Bottle festival. Our synchronized intention was to visualize all the water reservoirs of California and the entire world being abundantly filled for the greatest good of all. Thousands gathered physically, and hundreds of thousands globally as we became one with water through the power of our self love. It was a beautiful ceremony as our powerful intentions rippled through the world creating physical changes in our collective consciousness.

Sign up to participate in future global meditations at:

Get a text at 3:33PM with a positive intention to visualize:

Akon to bring solar power to 600 million Africans

Applaud Akon, everyone.

His new initiative “Akon Lighting Africa” is aiming to bring solar power to over 600 million Africans through the launch of a Solar Academy in Bamako, Mali.

The additional info, via GOOD Mag, explains it in more detail, which only widens the smile:

The Academy will train local African engineers and entrepreneurs in order to teach them how to produce solar power.

Lighting Africa noted that solar power electricity and micro-grids are already “really taking off in rural Africa.” The continent, their statement argues, has over 120 days of sun a year, making it that much easier to harness solar power. Akon’s goals are two-fold: both to provide clean alternative energy and great, meaningful jobs. The Academy will help empower people all across educational levels to build the electricity that’s going to light their homes.

*standing ovation*