What is a Quest and why does Knomee use quests ?

Quests are central to the Knomee experience. On the negative side, they make Knomee a self-tracking app with a steeper learning curve, that requires a little bit more time and effort, compared, for example, with one of the activity or mood tracker that one may find on the App Store. On the positive side, quests give more sense to tracking, they make the tracking experience more fulfilling and they help Knomee give you more meaningful feedback about yourself. A quest is a group of things that you want to track, each of them is called a tracker. Trackers are defined by one thing (weight, sleep, activity, mood, etc.) that you track, either by entering the value (using the sliders in Knomee’s interface) or by importing the value from “HealthKit”, the Apple service on your iPhone that collects all data from your connected devices (wristband, watch, scale, sleep monitor, etc.) or your iPhone itself.

A quest is what is called a “causal diagram” (albeit a simple one) in the scientific world. This means that a quest represents a causal hypothesis that you make, about yourself. A quest has one target and one to three factors. When defining a quest, you tell Knomee that up to three factors (say, the time you go to bed, the amount of steps that you walked, and the richness of the dinner that you had) have a causal influence on something that you care about, the target tracker (in this example, it could be the number of hours that you slept).

Self-tracking is good for you but boring. This is not an opinion, this is a scientific fact. It is proven that self-tracking helps you both to know yourself better and to help you change your behaviour towards a goal. It is also proven than most people stop self-tracking quickly, from a few days to a few weeks. Knomee was created to tackle this challenge, and it is a hard one.

The only thing that makes this self-tracking worthwhile is learning about yourself. This is why we selected “self-tracking with sense” as our motto. We came up with the quest idea for two reasons. First, a “quest” is “indeed a quest to know yourself better” and to see if your “causal hypothesis” happens to work. In many cases, using Knomee is a way to see if doing some particular effort is “worth it”.  Second, a causal diagram is a powerful tool to orient the machine learning and statistical analysis. It makes the problem of “making sense from your data” easier and helps us keep everything on your phone (hence our guarantee of full privacy).

Quests don’t last: you formulate a hypothesis, you learn (or you don’t) from it and you move to other things. We have made it easy to add and drop quests to Knomee. Our usage statistics show that this is not properly understood yet. Many users start with the pre-defined quests and never venture to create their own. This is a shame since it is unlikely that those pre-defined causal diagrams apply to you.

Quests are meant to be shared: the future of Knomee is to make it easier to share successful quests with others (sharing the model, the causal diagram, not your data). In a reciprocate way, it would be nice to be able to look at quests that have been successful for people who have the same “target” goals. For instance, although everyone is different, it would be nice to have access to a collection of successful quests from people who tried to improve the quality of their sleep.  Currently, sharing is possible but cumbersome: you send the model/quest description to a friend through email … and she/he may import it.  The quest library is another way to benefit from quest sharing but this feature is still in an infancy stage.

You may wonder why  no other tracking app is using quests. This is because we take our mission “self-tracking with sense” seriously. It is clear that it is hard to make sense with one single tracking dimension. You know this already if you are using a tracking app or if you are looking at your health app on your iPhone. At first seeing all this data and this nicely shaped charts is exciting, but you get rapidly bored because there is not much value there. The chronology (looking for weekly, daily and hourly patterns) is the most interesting part, but only a few apps do a decent job at it. If you “self-track” regularly, you will notice that the interesting questions arise from the combination of factors. There are a few Knomee competitors that upload all data in the cloud to search for any interesting combination or pattern. We already said that using quests (simple causal diagrams) makes the analysis simpler and suitable for a “device-only” solution (everything on your phone) but there is another reason for using quests. You are in charge, you know better than anyone what questions are interesting for you.