Off road mapping via OS RouteMapper and the Health Graph

Mark Kelsey (@freddy4th) is a doctor and a programmer with some great ideas for using the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi). This week we feature him and his first published Health Graph app, OS RouteMapper (@osroutemapper), in our ongoing series on Health Graph partners.

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your company.

Mark Kelsey: I am a doctor by profession and an amateur self taught programmer. I have developed a number of web applications and software packages which we use within my medical practice and I now also work for a software company which develops clinical decision support software. Work on my Health Graph app OS RouteMapper is therefore a bit of a sideline at the moment, though with my medical background I have lots of ideas for how the Health Graph API could be used to help people manage their medical conditions.

BD: What’s the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use your app?

MK: OS RouteMapper allows people to view their Runkeeper activities on Ordnance Survey maps within the UK. These maps are world renowned for being very detailed and in particular provide excellent detail off road. They are therefore particularly useful for walkers, cyclists or runners who don’t stick to roads! Outside the UK, the app uses OpenStreetMaps Cycle Maps which in many areas are much more detailed than Google maps, again particularly useful off road.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

MK: After using Runkeeper to track my cycling activities, I wanted to view my activities on more detailed maps so I could see where I’d been (I’m often cycling at night along dark tracks!) and plan where else to ride.

Before the Health Graph API was released, I developed a web site that would allow me to upload GPX files to show on an OS Map. When the Health Graph API was released it was a natural development to automatically get the activities off Runkeeper. I was surprised by how many people started using the app when I published it and when I saw that people from other countries were using it I added the support for OpenStreetMaps Cycle Maps. After seeing how easy it was to integrate with the Health Graph API, I have thought of lots of other ideas about how the data could be used in different ways.

BD: How has using the Health Graph benefited you?

MK: At the moment this is just a sideline for me but I think some of the ideas I have may have even greater appeal to lots of people and may become a commercial opportunity.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?

MK: I mainly use the activities feed and in particular the path of each activity is used to plot the route on the map. The street team feed is also used to enable users to view street team members’ activities on the maps.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?

MK: It is very easy to integrate with the Health Graph and the documentation is very clear, even for an amateur programmer like me! One addition I would appreciate is the ability to view the user’s saved routes as this is currently not available. I would also like to develop the ability for users to plan routes using my maps and save them back to the Runkeeper / HealthGraph site as a route.

BD: If you could request any crazy new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

MK: With my background as a doctor, I would really love to see some integration with clinical systems and devices so that users can see data (e.g. blood glucose measurements, BP readings, Weight readings etc.) that their doctor has on the clinical system, and they can see the effect of their exercise on their medical conditions. This could extend to things like blood glucose monitors so patients can automatically upload data. I think this kind of thing could really help telemedicine develop in the future.

BD: Can you share any future plans for your app? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?

MK: In the immediate future, I am developing a way for users to compare their performance over parts of their routes i.e. split times, so that even if they don’t follow exactly the same route twice, they can compare their performance over the parts of the route that are the same. As stated above I have a number of other ideas that I think would work well with the Health Graph and build on it. I am hoping to develop these.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?

MK: You can follow future developments on Twitter at @osroutemapper!

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


Social workouts with Fitness Tracker 90 CE and the Health Graph

Are you a developer with an idea for using the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi) but no company (yet) to help you build it? Take inspiration from this week’s featured partner, Steve Chen of SJC Global, Inc., who built Fitness Tracker 90 CE (@iFitnessTracker) himself while holding down a separate full-time job. You can do it too!

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your company.

Steve Chen: My company, SJC Global, is self owned and I am the sole employee. I do occasionally contract with other individuals as necessary, but the core of the product is all developed by myself. The company started in August 2010, and the company’s mission is to create great apps that enhance users lives. I hope to expand and grow the company’s products in the next year. My company is currently one of my many “hobbies”, as I am only able to work on it during my free time, since I also have a regular full-time job.

I have a Computer Science degree as well as an MBA and a great deal of experience working in the technology industry. I’ve worked at numerous companies throughout my career including small start-ups as well as large multi-billion dollar companies.

BD: What’s the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use your app?

SC: Fitness Tracker 90 CE is an app for your mobile device that allows you to record and monitor your workout progress. You no longer need to try and remember your workout schedule, since the app allows you to customize any routine to fit your needs. Use the app to track any 60 or 90 day workout or anything in between. Entering data is simple with the sleek user interface that is designed with speed of entry in mind. With Fitness Tracker 90 CE you know exactly how your workout is progressing given the detailed logs and elegant graphs that let you visualize your achievements. Get social with your workout by sharing your results on the RunKeeper service, or sharing your workouts on the user forums.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

SC: I felt that integrating with RunKeeper would benefit both my existing users as well as RunKeeper users not yet using Fitness Tracker 90 CE.

I started development using the Health Graph API by going through the documentation on the developer site. I also worked closely with the RunKeeper team initially on validating some of the API requirements to ensure that they would map to my needs as well as others.

BD: How has using the Health Graph benefited your business?

SC: Having the ability for users to post their results to the RunKeeper service has helped expand the reasons why someone would purchase my app. Users tend to see the integration with the RunKeeper service as a great benefit and I am thrilled that I am now able to offer that service to them in Fitness Tracker 90 CE. Traffic to my site has started to increase with little promotion thus far, and I hope to see the traffic continue to rise as more and more announcements are made.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use, and why?

SC: Fitness Tracker 90 CE currently utilizes the strength tracking and weight measurement features of the Health Graph API. The decision to use these Health Graph features was based on what Fitness Tracker 90 CE is designed to do, and that is to allow users to track and maintain their fitness.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?

SC: The Health Graph makes it easy for any app to integrate with it through the use of the APIs. The one difficulty I found frustrating at times was that errors on the server often resulted in HTML pages coming back instead of a simple response with an error code and description. I could see the need for an HTML page result when the API is called from a web page itself, but when calling the APIs through a mobile app the result needs to be parsed out of all the HTML and it is unclear in the documentation what types of error conditions may arise.

BD: If you could request any crazy new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

SC: My first request would be a simple change to how fitness activities are recorded. Currently, there is a type “other” that may be used when defining a new fitness activity. I would like to see an optional field that would allow you to also specify the fitness activity name, as this option would allow my users to track activities such as cardio kickboxing or other workouts that don’t necessarily have individual exercises.

BD: Can you share any future plans for your app? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?

SC: I can’t give away all my secrets, but I can say that I do plan on expanding my app to other devices in the future. The mobile industry is growing at an extraordinary rate and getting Fitness Tracker 90 CE on all mobile devices is one of my goals for 2012.

I am planning on integrating more workouts with the RunKeeper service as soon as the APIs are available that would allow me to do so. My goal is that every exercise, whether strength training related or not, that can be tracked in Fitness Tracker 90 CE should be integrated into RunKeeper.

There are also plans to add a stopwatch feature that will allow users to better monitor the time spent on fitness activities. This feature is already available through the RunKeeper API and would be something that users could look forward to seeing.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?

SC: If you are serious about working out and keeping track of your routine then definitely give Fitness Tracker 90 CE a try!

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


Corporate wellness, meet Limeade and the Health Graph

I’m very pleased to continue our series of Health Graph partner profiles with a discussion with Erick Rivas (@erickrivas) of Limeade (@limeade). Limeade is a leading corporate wellness provider that recently announced support for RunKeeper and other Health Graph API (@healthgraphapi) partner devices and apps in their Limeade Open App & Device Platform. Read on to learn more about how Limeade is using the Health Graph to make the workplace healthier and more fun too!

Bill Day: What do you do for Limeade?

Erick Rivas: I’m CTO and VP of Product Development at Limeade.

BD: How does your work at Limeade help corporations and their people?

ER: People spend a lot of time at work. And, habits at work — what you eat, how active you are, how you manage stress, etc. — have a huge effect on health and happiness. We help reinforce and change company culture in ways that promote health, happiness and productivity.

BD: That is a fantastic mission! How do you take advantage of the Health Graph API in your work?

ER: There is a lot of innovation going on in the area of fitness devices and apps. Users want to leverage best-in-class fitness devices and apps they already use and have that activity automatically count towards the rewards and incentives that are part of their company’s worksite wellness program.

For example, I took my daughter for a trick-or-treating “walk” of 3 miles around our neighborhood last night using RunKeeper and this morning, via our Health Graph integration, I automatically got 1 point for that as part of the walking challenge that I am participating in at Limeade. Employees can receive health insurance premium deductions, Amazon.com Gift Cards, be entered into a raffle for an iPad, and so on when certain points thresholds are met.

BD: How do you see this partnership with RunKeeper benefiting individual employees at the companies you’re working with?

ER: Our integration via the Health Graph API gives RunKeeper users a way to connect with others at their company in a social context. It gives Limeade users a fun way to track their physical activity using the fitness app or device of their choice.

BD: When a user starts using RunKeeper capabilities via the Health Graph integration in Limeade, what specifically happens behind the scenes?

ER: Upon authorization by the user (using OAuth), we are downloading/syncing with all Fitness Activity types and associated units (miles, calories, minutes) that are supported by the Health Graph API.

BD: Any thoughts on the overall strategy we’re taking with the Health Graph and the developer community?

ER: I really like the vision and direction of the Health Graph in providing an open way for users to store, manage and share historical health data from multiple providers.

BD: If you could request any new feature from the Health Graph, what would it be? How would you use it?

ER: I’d like to be able to distinguish between activities that were recorded by a device versus self-reported activities in the activity feed that is returned from the Health Graph API without having to parse through the GPS data.

Also, I’d like to be able know what the source of the device data is in cases where the user is not using the RunKeeper app (say they were using a partner device from Fitbit, Polar or Garmin). That way, we could not only show that you had (say) burned 10,000 calories in the last two weeks as part of your company’s Biggest Loser weight maintenance challenge, but also break that down by type of device.

BD: Thanks for the suggestions and requests, we appreciate them very much. What’s next for Limeade and your use of the Health Graph?

ER: We follow an Agile Development approach at Limeade and as a result we are deploying product improvements once a month.

In the near term, we will be improving the visualization of self-improvement information (activity, biometrics) and social features on the site.

Pulling additional data types that are stored in the Health Graph outside of physical/fitness activities (nutrition, weight, blood glucose levels, etc.) is something we will be supporting as well.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you and your customers’ use of Limeade?

ER: I trust that a lot of Limeade users will be excited about the integration with RunKeeper and the Health Graph API. And I look forward to feedback on ways that we can make it even better!

Bill Day (@billday) is Platform Evangelist for RunKeeper where he helps developers learn about and use the Health Graph.


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