Exploring Data Visualization with Fitbit

Humanizing Your Personal Data

Let’s take a quick look at technologies that an increasing number of people use daily—a cell phone, maybe a fitness monitor, perhaps a car that is close to self-driving, a learning thermostat and much more. We live in a time where we are producing oodles of data about our surroundings, our relationships and ourselves. In most cases, we can’t opt-out, ignore, or even slow this massive accumulation of data. When you combine your personal connections, your digital life, your daily tasks and all that “The Internet of Things” has to offer, opting out of the digital experience is not one of them.

The data we generate can be extremely valuable, but only a relative few fully appreciate and use that value. Take Facebook, or the next recommendation you receive from Amazon, or the next coupon you receive in the mail as examples. As the data we generate becomes more central in framing the decisions controlling our lives, the importance of understanding the data we create is priceless.image0

Data Representation: Helping or Hurting?

Most representations of this data are novel but less than enlightening, and not especially connective. At times it can even dampen your self-esteem—a constant reminder that you still have 200 calories to burn or that you have another 500 steps to go. 

Think back to your childhood days and all of the positive reinforcement you received—the $5 you got for cleaning the dishes or the extra play time if you finished your homework. It was all about creating a positive mood, an environment that focuses on your inner experience and feelings to help change behavior, reinforce the good. Art, for example, is a creative and expressive medium through which we have explored various aspects of our lives through the centuries. It’s helped us communicate our personalities, manage behavior and gain valuable insight into ourselves.

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Beautiful. Data.

We can create something that is more meaningful and resonates more with us as individuals by humanizing data. What if we were to correlate all this data into the creation of a piece of data-driven contemporary art? Fortunately for us, thanks to technology and the increasing ubiquity of Smart TVs, we already have a perfect digital canvas to work on.

In theory, we could create a piece of art out of personal data—a living artwork, which morphs based on constantly updated data and surroundings. We could even tie in data from personal relationships, such as your immediate family. 

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Rosetta Labs, Meet Fitbit

We were intrigued by this idea and decided to put it to the test through Rosetta Labs, our innovation engine, which was created to foster collaboration and nurture thought leadership among some of the most creative and passionate people in the agency. 

Beginning with a wealth of Fitbit data―almost four years’ worth to be precise―we put our left and right brains together to create a unique visualization of the data. Then came the interesting part―how could we tie this to our surroundings? What if we added data from personal connections and location data to create art? 

What surfaced was something captivating, visual, humanized, and most importantly, conversational and engaging. 

The experiment resulted in a piece of contemporary art, built to run like a screensaver, on a digital canvas―a TV in the home for instance. It could sense the presence of the person as a large orb with their activity data in orbit. Connections to others are represented as smaller orbs whose distance is relative to their GPS location. The color of the orbs represents the current activity level of each person. When another connection enters the room, a second orb and their connections appear and join with the original at an equal size to represent their physical proximity. 

Of course we maintained privacy throughout all this. While the people sharing the physical location will likely know each other, in the context of the artwork, none of the associations or locations are personalized or reveal any personal information. 

Customer Engagement for the Empowered Age

By surfacing data associated with peoples lives in a pleasant, artistic way we hope to raise awareness and understanding of what data generation and collection means for us all. It’s a testament to the value of bringing together groups of people from various disciplines―technology, creative, intelligence, communication, media, storytelling, human resources and others―to develop ideas that have the potential to make human lives better. That’s what Rosetta Labs represents. And it sits at the heart of customer engagement.

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