I recently returned from a month long European backpacking trip. Despite the exhilaration of traveling, part of me was quite eager to return home – I just couldn’t wait to see what my Moves data looked like! Throughout the trip I diligently classified my travels using the Moves app on my iPhone. Moves is a location tracking app that passively collects GPS data from your iPhone whenever you, well, move. One distinguishing feature of Moves is its ability to automatically recognize your movement as one of four types of movements: transportation (car, train, plane), walking, running, and cycling. While the app is fairly interesting by itself, you are only able to truly explore the depth of the data it collects with third party web services. Two of my favorite free platforms that utilize Moves data are Move-O-Scope and Gyroscope.
The best way to think about Move-O-Scope is as a Moves data aggregator. It overlays all location and movement data over time onto one map. As you add more days, weeks, and months to your Move-O-Scope, you begin to see patterns emerge in your movement around your home city (such as commuting patterns and frequently visited nightlife venues). The picture above this shows all the Moves data from my 4 weeks in Europe. You can almost discern the general direction of my travels just by briefly looking at it – London, Brussels (with days trips to Brugge and Amsterdam), Cologne, Wiesbaden, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Berlin, and back to London. You might notice I didn’t have my phone on when I traveled from London to Brussels (via the Chunnel) but other than that, Moves was able to record my locations with extraordinary accuracy.
Now let’s zoom into one city in particular – Wiesbaden, Germany. The picture above shows the movement data for the week I spent there. Orange is transportation data (car in this case), blue is cycling, and green is walking. Super cool to say the least.
The screenshot above shows my Gyroscope profile for the month of June. Gyroscope is a different type of service altogether. While it does take in Moves data, Gyroscope is a far more comprehensive quantified-self platform than Move-O-Scope. I suppose in some ways the two are like apples and oranges. Anyway, Gyroscope offers the ability to integrate many different tracking services into one unified web platform. From social media (Twitter, Instagram), to health (Fitbit, Withings, Jawbone), and of course location tracking with Moves, Gyroscope allows you to see a holistic view of your quantified life. I’ve tried out other similar self data aggregation services but none come close to what Gyroscope offers in my opinion. The interactive design is gorgeous and simply makes quantified self tracking a ton of fun. To check out Gyroscope in action, visit Anand Sharma’s (the founder of Gyroscope) website April Zero.
While I know I would have had a great trip regardless my location tracking, I feel doing so has provided me with an excellent tool for reflection when I’m older (it will also provide me invaluable guidance in making future European travel plans!). I think it is fair to say that most people just cannot remember absolutely every single place they’ve visited in their entire life. However, with services like Move-O-Scope and Gyroscope, anyone now has the ability to recall the locations of their lives with 100% accuracy, whether they’re on a vacation or at home. Perhaps semi-automated quantified self tracking is the new way to journal in the twenty-first century?