Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How it works!!!

The power of the mood tracking experiments I've been doing is in ] part due to the technology used to do it- check out what sort of results I've seen in my presentation!

But I agree- it's crazy. This tiny spec on top of this placebo pill can talk to my phone. Let me explain how!

So the outer layers of this tiny spec (like the two outer cookies on an oreo) actually act as two plates of a battery, with some electronics as the "cream filling". When the pill hits your stomach, a battery is formed between the two plates and your stomach fluid (which is the electrolyte). When the circuitry in the "filling" draws load current, a current field is established in the stomach fluid and surrounding tissues that can be measured on the surface of the body. The signal is then decoded by a patch that you wear on your torso:

You wear the patch for 7 days at a time (in showers, at the lake, during workouts- its waterproof and stays on, so you slap it on once and forget about it!)

The patch also gets your heart rate (via ECG), your motion and activity (with an accelerometer- like the FitBit), and your temperature. The data is recorded 24/7, and sent to your phone every half hour over Bluetooth. It is them processed further on Proteus servers to give you information like sleep length and quality and activity levels, as well as timestamps and information on every pill that you took.

You can see an overview of data on your phone (sleep length, step count, pill timings, etc); we also store the raw data in case you want to dig deeper!

The patch I'm wearing above is our second generation- they're rapidly getting smaller and cheaper for more unobtrusive tracking!

I can't wait to get more mindfulness experiments going with this system- what sort of crazy things would YOU try?



  1. when will these be made available to the general public? (WANT)

  2. In Europe sooner than in the US :) But hopefully in the next year!

  3. There are many different offers for self-tracking devices coming up. Are there any feature-comparison pages made for these yet?

  4. Dear Tracy,

    your question was, what i would love to track. Well, next to the standard-dataset, I would love to track, what I am eating. (carbohydrates, protein, and so on). One pill for the most common elements of food. this would also give me the times, when I eat and probably a correlation, to sleep-quality, and so on. mix this with your mood-pills (energy and so on) and training (including body weight, body-fat) and you get a quite nice set of data about connections between food, workout and wellness.