Lifelogging with our AIRS and Storica apps

By | 07/06/2013

For the last year, I’ve been using our mobile apps AIRS and Storica for lifelogging, i.e., recording a large variety of mobile-centric data for experience and lifestyle purposes. With the increasing power and storage in modern smartphones, the times seem right for creating your own personal history!

AIRS is the recording part, securely storing the defined data in an internal SQlite database, while Storica allows for processing and visualising the data right on your mobile.

You can decide what to record and how (AIRS provides a lifelogging template that you can use if you don’t want to bother configuring it all yourself). TecVis (the provider of AIRS and Storica) provide web pages with tips for recording as well as an online manual for AIRS to better tune the settings to your liking. It can record location (GPS-based), WiFi around you, BT devices, ambient noise level, all internal sensors (even the latest ambient humidity of the Galaxy S4), attached sensors such as the Zephyr HxM heart rate sensor, and many more (65 pieces of information are supported, according to the website). Widgets are supported for capturing own annotations during the day (e.g., what you are doing, what annoys you, …) or your mood (through emoticons).

The Storica app allows for experiencing your recordings right on your phone. Location tracks are visualised using the Google Map v2 with fly-over maps of your daily track. Meaningful events (such as social comms, annotated events or calendar appointments) are gathered and visualised as ‘stories of your day’ with personalisable backgrounds based on spatial information and a context panel which shows you important context information at the time of the event (such as noise levels, light levels etc). A media gallery enriches your snapshots with context information similar to the stories. Overall, Storica is really cool for recollecting where you’ve been days or weeks ago, what happened around you, what did you annotate at that time, etc.

Given the vast information gathered, AIRS is free and open source so that you can inspect the gathering modules. No data leaves your device unless you specifically copy a backup (or sync, e.g., via Bluetooth)! The data remains yours, which is very important to me. Storica is free, too, for short-term memory recollection, i.e., looking back no more than 7 days at any point of time. Longer-term recollection (e.g., looking through your recordings from Christmas) can be purchased through in-app billing.

How’s battery life? Recording like this does cost battery. I’ve been using AIRS now for almost two years and its battery usage has constantly improved. When executing the lifelogging template (which comes as standard), my battery consumption per hour increases from ca 1% (Galaxy Nexus on Android 4.2.2) to about 3.5% to 4%. If you use adaptive GPS and often hang around in places you marked in AIRS, this consumption goes down to 2.5% in those places (e.g., at work or at home). Hence, I can record all day without absolutely depleting my battery – and I often top up the battery in any case, even without recording.

Where is this all heading to? With many apps doing location recording, such as Saga or MyTracks from Google, AIRS goes one step further by widening the pool of information being recorded. It’s hard to say where it will go. Is it useful? I do think so since I enjoy the recollections enabled by it, the evidence you can gather for yourself (e.g., pinpointing noisy situations and the stress impact it had on you) and the simple fun of having a fly-over experience of your last holiday ;-)

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