• By Sin Mei C
  • March 28, 2014

This Week in Context – 20140328

This Week in Context: Let’s meet up in Paris for the Music Hack Day April 4-6! Also, the latest news on the acquisitions of Basis & Oculus Science, the Moto 360 smart watch, and some new and interesting research papers on mobile sensing and human behaviour recognition ontologies.

Opinions on Data Intelligence

  •  Exist’s Belle Beth Cooper writes about the Ramifications of the Quantified Self; what the downsides of self-tracking might be.  There’s many things to be said for self-tracking, but technology-assisted quantified self is fairly new still. There’s some way to go still before we see what value we can get from tracking our lives. In the meantime, we should mind that the pressure of tracking and trying to change does not make things worse.  Yet, there’s no doubt that as technology starts to understand our data better, and through this data how and when we need that little nudge, as a motivational side-kick technology can make a difference. (via Stevo)
  • Artificial-intelligence company Vicarious has closed a fresh $40 million round. Vicarious’ technology focuses on trying to digitally recreate the part of the brain, called the neocortex, that handles sight, controls the body, interprets language, and does math. The cognitive computing startup believes that by doing this, it will be able to create an artificial intelligence that thinks and learns like a human does. (via Frank Maene)

Wearables, Sensors & other Gear

  • Intel has acquired wearables company Basis Science for about $100 million. The Basis Health Tracker Watch is one of the most complete activity, sleep and stress trackers currently available, and offers a great opportunity for Intel to further test and refine its chipsets and its Edison development board. The Basis team will continue to sell and work on the Basis Watch, but will also work with the broader Intel team on future wearable initiatives – and maybe the QS Sense-Making Too project as well
  • Google now has a watch too. Although Google has agreed to sell Motorola to Lenovo, Motorola Mobility’s Moto 360 is very much a Google watch. It will be the first wearable powered by the Android WEAR SDK.
  • I’m sure you’re aware Facebook splurged $2 billion on Oculus, but you might not be aware that ‘the Internets’ – especially Ocolus’ initial backers – were rather skeptical about what they consider to be a sell-out. Catch up on that by reading Steven Poole’s What does the Oculus Rift backlash tell us? Facebook just isn’t cool.
  • Thalmic’s Myo controller does not only track your gestures using accelerometer and gyroscope and provides haptic feedback; for a more precise input, it also tracks the electrical activity in your muscles.  I can’t wait to see it used in the gaming market – imagine how easy it will be to tell an NPC to fu.. err.. bugger off. The consumer version of the Myo armband can be pre-ordered for $149.  See the Myo in action in this rather awesome demo: Myo & Ocuclus Rift – Hands on With Myo.

Research Papers

  •  Privacy for Personal Neuroinformatics, with suggestion on how to make EEG scan information available to researchers as extracted high-level features, without disclosing the raw signal; so without being uniquely identifiable. From the abstract: The motivation for sharing EEG signals is significant, as a mean to understand the relation between brain activity and well-being, or for communication with medical services. However, only a small part of the brain is under voluntary control, thus the information revealed by EEG may largely be unknown to the user. As the equipment for such data collection becomes more available and widely used, the opportunities for using the data are growing; at the same time however inherent privacy risks are mounting. The same raw EEG signal can be used for example to diagnose mental diseases, a nd traces of epilepsy, and decode personality traits. 
  • AIRS: A Mobile Sensing Platform for Lifestyle Management Research and Applications, about an open source sensing platform for the research community, which allows for both automatic and manual input. They hope AIRS will mean that researchers have to spend fewer time dealing with sensor-specific issues, freeing up energy to focus on developing advanced algorithms that make use of such collected information. Processed information you can get from AIRS ranges from spatial context, over social context through even mental context. Whilst some contexts still require user input (for example, emotional context depends mainly on the mood button), the paper contains a good overview of which data sources are available on mobile, and how this data can lead more context-aware systems. TecVis made the AIRS platform free and open source, in case you want to have a look at the code.
  • A Survey on Ontologies for Human Behaviour Recognition reviews different methods for human activity recognition, classi?ed as data-driven and knowledge-based techniques. Missing features, relevant for modelling daily human behaviors, are identi?ed as future challenges.


  • Music Hack Day takes place at the Deezer HQ in Paris next week. For Argus Labs Roel, Ben, Maarten and yours truly are attending, and we’re taking Anthony Liekens along as well. All of us are looking forward to an epic 48 hours of little sleep and much music.  

So, if you’re in Paris and want to say ‘Hi!’, let us know at info@sentiance.com. (Also, it’s not too late yet to RSVP!) I’ve been researching moods quite a bit recently, and – go figure – weekends and sunshine definitely help to lift your mood. So go enjoy the weekend and the sun, and have laugh with this (too) Emotional Scrabble-Playing Robot. That’s negatively affected affective computing for sure. And rather entertaining as well. 


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