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Knomee 2.06 is avaible on the App Store

Calendar

Knomee has been evolving every month since the launch of Knomee 2.0 a few months ago.

The last update (version 2.06) introduced two new features:

  • The "dataviz" interface that you get when you click on the calendar on the chart view now displays a calendar with the four previous weeks. Each day is assigned an average performance, with a corresponding colour that tells you if you are meeting your target goals for you quest, or far from them. You may have noticed that Knomee sends you a coloured feedback (an alert) each time you enter a new measure, this is exactly the same principle / colouring that is used for the calendar.
  • The main design principle of Knomee is to help you enter a new self-tracking measure very fast, using the four vertical sliders, one for each tracker. In 99% of the case, this is both precise and efficient ... but sometimes you may want to record a precise numerical value. If you long-press on the slider, and if the tracker is a numerical tracker, you will get the opportunity to enter the value directly though a numerical keyboard.

Most of the changes are bug fixes that we collect through your usage. During the summer, a new version  of the EMLA (Evolutionary Machine Learning Agents) algorithm was introduce to optimize memory consumption.

Another feature that has received continuous improvement is the notification that you receive to prompt you to make a new measure. You have two options (this is decided in the "option" screen that you may access from the home screen). To activate the reminders (notification) you simply switch "Reminders" on. Then you decide between "time" and "cycle". The time option is very simple : you get a reminder once a day if you have not self-tracked recently. You pick the time with the hourly dial on the right. If you select "cycle", Knomee will compute the proper delay for each quest, which depends on which frequency you asked for during setup. You can edit this frequency at any moment by selecting "edit" on the home screen.

You will notice that we have made the design of sliders more self-evident, and we have also improved the on-boarding screens since we got strong complaints from some users. Don't hesitate to share any feedback if you think that we could make learning how to use Knomee easier.

Using Knomee takes a while to get rewarded, since the app needs enough data to provide feedback (the "sense" in "self-tracking with sense" :). The simplest  and usually most interesting moment is when Knomee start to let you know which factor seem to contribute to your quest. You have probably noticed that Knomee colours the trackers in green (background colour) if the tracker plays a positive role, and red if the tracker plays a negative role. In Knomee 2.06  we make this more evident in two ways:

  • on the chart view (the detail self-tracking charts), we have added smiling and frowning smileys to complement the colouring
  • on the main screen (the one with the sliders), we now put a touch of red/green coloring as the mountains background. Thus you get "at first glance" the positive feedback from Knomee as soon as there is enough data, assuming that some of the trackers are significant
Chart
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“Atomic Habits” – Why habit tracking matters

AtomicHabits
  1. Introduction

James Clear is a very influential speaker and entrepreneur. He works on the topic of efficiency and how to develop positive habits, with hundreds of thousands of  subscribers to his newsletter. His recent book, “Atomic Habits” has quickly reached the bestseller status. Although many other books have been written about the relationship between positive habits and success, this one stands out because of the depth of the related evidence, from neurosciences to personal experience.

This short post is a list of selected lecture notes, not a book review. Because the topic of “habit tracking” is crucially important to our team at Knomee, this will be the main center of our interest. However, the next section will start by pointing out some of this great book’s key ideas, to give you some reasons to grab your copy. The next section will zoom on habit tracking. Habit tracking is a powerful practice, it is just too hard for many, and they drop their tracking too soon, before reaching the benefits. The last section will highlight some consequences on Knomee's design.

 

  1. Picking up new habits 

Here are a few insights taken from the book, about habits.

  • One should set goals on outcomes, because they are what matters, but measure systems, that are the processes that will deliver the outcome. The relationship between efforts and outcome is not linear. The more complex the task, the more you need to measure your system, since measuring the outcome will not tell you what is happening. Here is one of James Clear’s famous quote: “ I believe that you do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”. This is close to the army motto : you do not raise to the level of your expectation, you fall to the level of your practice.
  • If we look for the root causes of change, one should look our our identity : our values and our self-image, because the identity drives the behavior, that drives the process results that yield the outcome. There is a dual relationship between habits and identity, as noticed by Aristotle (“we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is a habit”). Working on your habits is a way to model your identity. This is quite a sophisticated idea, you should read the book, a summary will not do justice to the depth of the thinking.
  • There are four steps in the core of the habit forming process : cue, craving, response, reward. Although this is not unique (other work such as Nir Eyal in “Hooked” make similar references to this 4 steps process), this is obviously very relevant to understanding habit formation.
  • Desire is the fuel of learning, “It is the anticipation of rewards that drives to action”. This is a critical lesson from biology.  There is another 4 steps cycle that any change management plan should understand and leverage : desire => plan => action => reward/reflect. You can find a similar argument develop in a previous post of from one of our team members.
  • Repetition is at the core of habit forming, towards mastery. We definitely need practice (to do things) and repetition (lots of doing) to set up habits.
  • Our brains are poorly equipped to handle delayed gratification (time inconsistency: the way our brain evaluates rewards in inconsistent over time) - it is a skill one has to learn
  • Mastery is one of the key components of intrinsic motivation, as brilliantly explained by Daniel Pink (purpose, autonomy, mastery). James Clear adds this key equation : “Mastery = habits + deliberate practice”. We need both, deliberate practice is necessary for reflection, reflection is needed for the mastery’s self-awareness.
  • James Clear emphasizes the importance of consistency : “it’s not the first mistake/lapse that kills habit forming, it is the spiral of repeated mistakes”. Therefore, “doing it poorly”, when you feel that this is not the day or the moment to practice, is very important.

 

  1. Habit Tracking

James Clear writes a truly great chapter about “habit tracking” : “A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit - like marking an X in a calendar”. Here are some of the more salient insights :

  • “Habit tracking is a great tool towards setting up new habits or getting rid of bad ones, as exemplified by Benjamin Franklin”. See “The Happiness Project” from Gretchen Rubin.
  • "Habit tracking is powerful because it leverages multiples Laws of Behavior Change. It simultaneously makes a behavior obvious, attractive and satisfying". This is the short summary of the chapter : why habit self-tracking is a great tool to set up a new habit. Tracking make the habit “obvious”: the mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it. As noted by James Clear, “Habit Tracking keeps us honest. Most of us have a distorted view of our own behavior”. Second, self-tracking bring some form of attraction because the most effective form of motivation is progress. “Each small win feeds your desire”. Last self-tracking is satisfying in the sense that tracking can become its form of own reward. “It provides a visual proof that you are casting votes for the type of person you wish to become”.
  • However, this is not the complete story, otherwise everyone would be using self-tracking apps: “Tracking is hard, it is not for everyone” : tracking your habits requires discipline, and provides with delayed gratification”. When possible, automated tracking (without conscious effort) is preferred. When manual tracking is required (usually one needs both to get a better context), “Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits”.
  • “There is no need to measure your entire life. But anyone can benefit from tracking in some form - even if it’s only temporary”. Habit tracking is not binary : either you do or you don’t. It can be a temporary action, as a help to set up or to recover a positive habit.

 

  1. Why this matters to Knomee

The insights that are contained in this book are very important for the Knomee team and for our mobile application. Here are the four most important quotes that directly relate to our design decisions: 

  1. “Habit trackers and other visual forms of measurement can make your habit satisfying by providing clear evidence of your progress”. This is the heart of Knomee main user interface,to see your data for 21 days and to get instant recognition of how well/poorly you are doing with “mountain” icons (because your data looks like mountains, too).
  2. “Despite all the benefits, many people resist the idea of tracking and measuring”. Our key design objective with Knomee is to make it fast. Our second goal is to make it fun. Hence forecasting is built-in to make tracking both faster and more fun.
  3. “Tracking is hard, not for everyone” : true, but we believe that many more people could benefit from habit tracking if we could make it easier, faster and more fun. We are not there yet !
  4. “Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits … even if it’s only temporary”. Knomee is designed toward temporary quest tracking. A quest is a small (less than 4) things that you want to track together to see if you are picking a new habit.

 

We strongly urge you to read the book to harness the power of positive habits, and the benefits of the “meta-habit” of habit tracking.

However, Knomee is not a simple habit tracker. Knomee is a self-tracking app for people with a “quest” (with a question and a goal). There are better and simpler apps to just track your habits, such as  Streaks and Strides. Knomee is a more complex app designed for “self-tracking with sense”, that is, when you have a “why”, a clear reason for self-tracking (which is what the quest represents, not simply “do I succeed to develop this habit ?” but “why should I pick this habit ?”).

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Large performance improvements for new Knomee release !

NewMountains

This month's release for Knomee (v2.04) turns out to be quite important, because we were successful to optimize and to reduce Knomee memory consumption significantly. Since iOS kills apps that consume the most memory when it needs to load something new, this behavior (Knomee stopping with no warning because OS killed it) has started to happen before. The improved algorithm is both much faster and less memory-hungry, by a factor of five. This translates in better stability and performance.

As with the previous releases of Knomee 2, this release comes with a number of bug fixes and minor usability improvements. In addition, we have made two changes to reflect some of the comments sent by our users :

  • The main screen, that is used to enter new self-tracking measures, has been using “mountains” representations to give you a quick feedback on how you are doing, with respect to the target that you have set, with each of your quest trackers. Rounded light-green mountains are indicators of success (target reached) whereas rugged dark mountains indicate that you are still far from your target values. To make this more obvious, we have just added a smiley face, happy or unhappy, to the mountain icons. In addition, since 2.04, you may click on the mountain to get an explanation. The weather illustration gives you a trend: a bright sun indicates improvement while rain represents a decline in performance.
  • The Quest Rating interface, that you see when you click on the quest score on the main screen if you have selected the “tech mode” has been simplified. The goal of this interface is both to explain the quest score (from 0% to 100%) and to show the structure of the quest with colors to help you see which trackers help or do not help towards your quest. The new interface is simpler, it show that the score is the sum of three components:  the data score (how much data you have collected), the pattern score (the capability of knomee to extract patterns from your data) and the forecasting score (how well Knomee is doing with its forecasting algorithm). The idea, inspired by Granger causality, is that a good forecasting score is an indication of a good quest (remember that a quest is a "causal hypothesis" that you are trying to prove or disprove).

Knomee has now reached a good usability level and our goal is to develop our reach. There are a number of new competitors to Knomee, which is a good thing, since it shows the need for a truly customizable self-tracking app. However, Knomee is still the only mobile application with embedded AI that gives smart feedbacks and visual analysis of your self-tracking data.

NewKenscore
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Knomee may help during recovery after surgery

Since we have released Knomee version 2.0 in May, we are upgrading our iOS app every month with performance improvements, bug fixes and small usability enhancements. Thanks to our user feedbacks, we are getting closer to the worry-free experience that you all deserve. Here are a few of the fixes that were introduced in version 2.02 and 2.03:

  • Show the quest category on home page (looks nicer) and make the big square "quest switch" button more visible on that home page. If you are not familiar to Knomee: the square button with your quest name helps you to see all your quests and select a new one. Managing multiple quests is much more interesting. 
  • Make mountains more explicit ( you may click on them). Mountains icons are a simple summary of (a) how you are doing globally with respect to the target (shape of the mountain) and what is the trend (weather element : sun means that you improve, clouds that you decline).
  • Introduce HRV from Apple Watch: Heart Rate Variability is a key bio-value that you may track, it tells you a lot about your heart health. We have introduced a standard quest to improve you HRV through sleep, reducing inflammatory foods and exercising your body.
  • Better memo edit and display in the chart view (the one that you get clicking on the eye). Memos are a key new feature of version 2.0. You may annotate Knomee with key moments, which will make it easier later to reflect on your self-tracking.
  • Bug fixes for quests with only 2 or 3 trackers (most of the quests use one target and three trackers, so we had missed a few things).

One of our team member received open heart surgery a few months ago and has gone through recovery using Knomee. Most of his usual quests were useless because of the global state of weakness after a major surgery. On the other hand, creating a handful of new quests dedicated to the recovery turned out to be very helpful. Here is a short summary of the key benefits:

  • Self-tracking helps to get a sense of your progress even though recovery is a complex story with ups and downs. The chaotic nature of recovery (how the pain reduces, for instance) is such that self-tracking helps to see the bigger picture.
  • After heart surgery, it makes sense to leverage other apps or sensors on your phone or connected device : "Instant Heart Rate" is a great companion app for Knomee:the shape of heart rate tells a lot, from arrhythmia to extra-systolic pulses. Rest heart rate and HRV are two other bio-measures that are very interesting to monitor to see your (slow) progress through recovery.
  • Knomee helps you to discover what factors will speed up your recovery : sleep (major ... no surprises, but it feels good to see it from your data analysis), food excitant (coffee, alcohol), fat intake,  etc. Everyone reacts differently, but Knomee helps you find the lifestyle and diet that will speed up your recovery to wellness.
  • Use of memos for key first moments during recovery - this is one of the most exciting application of Knomee 2.0 memo feature. During recovery there are good times (small victories : the first time you get back to being able to do something) and bad ones. Recording them using memos puts your self-tracking into perspective and makes your journey to better health an emotional one.

This short real-life user story is interesting because it emphasises one key principle of Knomee : there are no universal quests, the one that matter the most should be crafted by the user ... and there are no permanent quests. A quest fits a moment of your life, when you ask yourself a few questions (recovery after a major surgery is definitely such a moment). You create a quest and you self-track to help you build your own opinion ... then you move to other things.

It also shows that self-tracking is only meaningful when you ask yourself a question. Otherwise it gets boring very soon, which is what we hear from some of our users.

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Knomee 2.0 is available on the AppStore

ChartViewWithMemo

Knomee 2.0 is now available on the AppStore !

As explained in our previous post, this version has a completely new database. The bad news is that you need to reinstall Knomee, the good news is that there are many interesting new features, including "memos", that is the ability to annotate your self-tracking with very short text memos. The re-engineering of the database had become necessary to improve and simplify the app's architecture. For instance, Quests have now more features that will prove very useful if anyone wants to submit a Quest to Knomee public library.

However, the true motivation for this design breakthrough was your request to add annotations. Frankly, this should have been a feature from the very beginning since most academic books about self-tracking report that the ability to add explicit texts to the measures is critical to improve the "ownership". Being able to add your comments about the context for the self-tracking is more that useful : it is mandatory when some exceptional circumstance explain the very specific value (such as being sick and  thus logging fewer steps, being invited for a celebration dinner and logging more food/drink than usual, starting a new prescription and seeing that it makes a difference on your heart rate, etc.)

To create a memo, you simply clock on the calendar button (top of main screen) and you get a new UI that may be used either to change the current time or to add a memo. Memos appear in the measure list (when you ask for a list of all measures in the ChartView screen) but they are also represented directly on the ChartView, as show in the first illustration. Each memo is represented by a small diamond, with a line that displays the text of the memo on the time horizon. This makes remembering the context of a specific measure very simple.

Quests have now an optional "owner" (represented with an email) and a "pitch" : a 2 sentence summary of the purpose and benefits of the quest. The Quest Library has also been improved, but this is only the beginning. Our goal is to make the Quest Library fully open, with its GitHub site, so that anyone can add to the library.  We strongly encourage you to browse through the quest library (see illustration below) and to submit your best quests so that they may be shared with others.

The engine for data analysis through Machine Learning, called EMLA, has also been improved. A few month ago we presented a research paper that explains our 2018 quest to improve the robustness and usability of our EMLA algorithm. Knomee 2.0 benefits from these scientific improvements through better prediction capabilities.  Last, many of the data vizualization UI (user interfaces) have been improved in Knomee 2.0. There is still a long journey to make Knomee as simple to use as it is effective.

When you de-install Knomee 1.9, you will loose your data, but you will keep you quest on your iCloud (assuming that you have activated this option). Therefore, when you install Knomee 2.0, an alert will tell you that your Knomee account has been found and that your previous quests may be re-installed.

If your really want to get your data, you should export it to yourself via email before de-installing Knomee 1.9 and that you can import it back with Knomee 2.0. Don't hesitate to contact "knomyself@gmail.com" if you need assistance.

 

 

QuestLibrary
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New version on the AppStore – planning ahead for 2019

1. New 1.91 version 

A new version is now available on the app store. It is a minor release since it comes with few changes:

  • It solves Face ID and i-Cloud Bugs. If you have an iPhone X or Xs, you should definitely upgrade. This is mandatory if you want to protect Knomee with personal identification (touch or face recognition).
  • The quest library has been expanded with a few new quests. For instance we have added a quest for pregnant women (how to reduce cramps) and a keto diet quest. Knomee is quite useful to help you monitor your diet and we expect to see more such quests in the future. One team member is using Knomee to track the benefits of the paleo diet with surprisingly good and significant results.
  • The font size on the home screen is now dynamic and adapts to your iPhone model and the type of labels used by your quest.
  • The "quest swipe" capability (the ability to move from one quest to the other by swiping right or left on the home screen) has been significantly improved. This also applies to the "swipe up/down" capability to move from "home" to "chart" view and back.

2. 2018 lessons

Knomee has been available for over a year, it has been a great learning journey from our team. We have managed to recruit organically a fair amount of users, thus gathering very interesting feedbacks. This comes from the analytics  (number of user, various steps that were explored) and explicit comments through email and social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter). The short story is that Knomee is too complex for most users who quit after a few days of exploring the different menus. Fortunately, some of you go further with their Knomee experience, which gives deeper insights.

Our main hard problem is that the value proposition is not perceived by most users. For people who start a self-tracking journey, Knomee ends up delivering lots of value because the quests are personalised and because the insights that are permitted by the quest structure are actually useful. Some users have been able to improve significantly their lives thanks to the behaviour change supported by Knomee. Simply stated, it takes a few weeks of self-tracking before Knomee starts to shine and this is too long for most users.

A key request from you, the Knomee users, is to be able to personalise your tracking with notes, short time-stamped memos that record the context of a measure. This is a very legitimate request, since a self-tracking app is very much like a diary. Also it is a common feature of most mood trackers. Another key interesting message that we hear from our users is  "if I confide my personal data to Knomee I expect a nice display of my data, both pleasant to look at and insightful". 2019 will be a journey towards getting our data visualisation on par with the best professional tools.

3. Knomee version 2.0

The next release will add all the fixes that we have pushed forward during 2018 because they require a database model change. The good news is that we are going to solve irritating problems or add features that our users have been requesting frequently. The bad news is that it will require you to start fresh and reimport your data (quests or measures) ... or start with a new set of quests.

More precisely, here is the current list of features that we are implementing right now:

  • Memos: at last, you will be able to add notes and see them on the chart view, which will become your personal diary.
  • Upgrading our database schema will allow to make a number of choices persistent.
  • Quests will evolve towards an open library model (cf. next section) - where quests authors (a new role, this could be you) will enrich the quest with additional info such as a "pitch description" (why would anyone use the quest) or a feedback email (if you want to share your data). The notion of a "quest author" should match the needs of coaches (from sports to diet) who want to leverage Knomee to promote behaviour practices.
  • As told in the previous section, the "chart view" will improve constantly with better displays of the graphs (data tracking curves) and insights.

The current release date for Knomee 2.0 is April 2019.

4. 2019 strategy

Because our main challenge is a communication problem, our main strategy for 2019 is to listen. The app will continue to evolve to fix bugs as required by our users (after a year of feedbacks, it is obvious that a self-tracking app needs to be flawless), but we have no other plan for new features than those proposed with Knomee 2.0.

On the other hand, you can expect from us a redoubled effort on our communication front, either on this Web site or our social media accounts.

Last, we plan to open-source the library of quests using a GitHub account. Stay tuned, more will be announced after the 2.0 release. Quests are already encoded using an open format. Our new public git site will hold:

  1. Data sample files for fellow research scientists who want to apply their machine learning algorithms to self-tracking data
  2. The set of quests that is offered in the Knomee library. Very soon, this library will be open-sourced : if you upload a quest to our GitHub, it will be part of the next release !

 

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Do whatever you want with your data

KnomeeOpenFormat

A key principle from the quantified self movement is that you should use tools that let you do whatever you want with your data, that is, that do not keep the data locked in some proprietary format.

Knomee stores two types of data on your iPhone:

  • measure data, that you generate each time you record a value from one of your quest.
  • quest meta-data, that describes how the measure data should be interpreted.

Measure data can be exported and imported through CSV files, as shown on the illustration.

  1. to export your data, you press the export button on the "chart view" (small rectangle with a outward arrow), and Knomee produces an email addressed to you with a CSV (comma separated values) file of all the measures from this quest. You can upload them in Excel or any tool of your choice.
    The format is:  date, longitude, latitude, measure target value, measuer first factor value, second factor value, third factor value.
  2. to import your data, you open the measure list interface (second screenshot on the illustration) and you click the import button (small rectangle with an inward arrow). This will open a text zone where you can paste any CSV file that you have copied from your phone. Using these two steps is a way to perform back-up & restore.

Meta-data can be exported and imported as JSON files.  The JSON format is a self-evident description of your quests, its attributes and its trackers.

  1. to export a quest, you open the edit interface and click on the export button. This will generate an email to yourself, with the JSON description of your quest. Remember our promise to use only email as a tool to move data out from the application so that you may control this flow better.
  2. to import a quest, you open the quest list interface (as if you were to select a quest), and you will seen the import button (same, a small rectangle with an inward arrow). This will open a text zone where you can paste the quest description.

What you need to remember is that your data belongs to you (we cannot see it at Knomee) and that it is not stuck in your app, you can get it back whenever you want.

Knomee 2.0 will make sharing quest descriptions easier since we will create an open GitHub with all the Quest Library descriptions. Anyone will be able to add to this list of quests.

 

 

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Design your own self-tracker for 2019 !

SelfTrackingAdvertising

Happy new year from the Knomee application team !

January first is traditionally the time for "New Year resolutions" ... that do not survive a few weeks most of the time. Self-tracking can help : science has shown repeatedly that tracking your goals and your habits develop both self-awareness and motivation.

Knomee is not just a tracking app, it is a generator for customised tracker. Using Knomee you can create in less than 10 minutes your very own tracker.

The picture above illustrates how you can use Knomee to track virtually everything. Four examples are shown:

  • The first one is a "business life / performance" case where you want to see how to improve the engagement in your meetings. You assess the performance (i.e. engagement here) of each meeting that you attend, and you also track three factors : the number of attendees, the duration of the meeting and the presence of a meeting agenda.
  • The second example is self-tracking applied to improving your family chocolate cake recipe. You track how good your cake tested based on which kind of chocolate you used, how much sugar you used and how long the cake stayed in the oven. Obviously, as soon as you have found the best parameters with those three factors, you will move to other such as the amount of butter or the oven temperature.
  • You can use Knomee to monitor your performance with any kind of activity, since you are free to use your own scales with your own words (labels). Here we show a "Ultimate game tracker" where you also track your heart rate and weather factors such as wind and visibility.
  • The last example shows how personal self-tracking can be. Here the Knomee user is suffering from bladder discomfort when urinating, and trying to see if the number of drinks (especially coffees) and the current stress level have an impact and could be used to reduce the discomfort.

These four examples have nothing to do with New Year resolutions ... because each of these resolution (quit smoking, loose weight, play more with your kids, read a book each month, ...) is personal and we thought that showing you examples of resolutions might downplay your motivation.

It is time to act, and it is your job : define your new lifestyle tracker and use Knomee to get some insights about yourself.

When you start Knomee, it comes with three pre-defined quests, to help you get familiar with the app (mood, energy and sleep). Most often, we hear as first feedback : "Knomee is not for me, I do not care about these things. I don't want to track my mood and my sleep/energy patterns are fine". This is not what Knomee is about ! Knomee is about tracking what matters to you. Thus you should quickly forget about the pre-defined quests and build your own.

If you should remember one thing :

Knomee is not a self-tracking app,
it is a tool to help you define your personalised tracker.