The History of the Compass Lifelogging Application

In 2012 Chris Dancy went to Amber Case’s CyborgCamp, an unconference on the future of humans and technology. He wanted to show her a project he’d been working on for the last three years, over 600 different datasets of Dancy’s locations, activities, sleep patterns, weight and other data, color coded and synchronized with Google Calendar.

Amber Case & Chris Dancy

Origins of a mindful cyborg: Case and Dancy at CyborgCamp Portland 2012 and in 2015.

With this much data, Dancy was able to gain an entirely new perspective on his life. He was able to correlate sleep with weight, sadness or happiness, or even the effect of air quality on his driving.

For the first time, all of these different data sets were in one place – the ultimate personal perspective. Case was excited to see this and suggested he show it during an unconference session. Though Dancy was nervous – this was his private data after all – Amber didn’t give him a choice. Case switched the projector on to show Dancy’s work to everyone in the room. The work inspired dozens of questions and a long discussion. Klint Finley, a reporter from Wired, was part of the session and wrote an article on Dancy. The rest, as we say, is ‘Christory’.

Chris Dancy's Google Calendar

Chris Dancy’s lifelogging Google Calendar.

The World’s Most Connected Human

One year later Chris made his way into the larger world as “The world’s most connected human”. He’d stopped smoking and completely changed his behavior, but there was one problem – only he could use his system. It allowed him to see activities in a new way, lose over 100 pounds and significantly improve his life, but the system was an expensive undertaking that required a lot of time and effort. Dancy wanted others to be able to see their lives over time. It didn’t seem feasible or fair that we might need 600 applications and devices in order to understand their lives. With so much data, we run the risk of becoming so connected that we don’t have any time to reflect. Dancy wondered what anyone might be able to do with just the sensors on the phone. Case suggested he find a company in the space and seek their support.

Building an Application

Compass Application

Preview of the Compass app for iPhone.

A few years later, Chris found Healthways, a Nashville-based company with success in the wellness industry and recruited Case to work with him. Healthways invested in the project, and this week, the first results of their collaboration, an iPhone app called Compass was born. Tracking behavior is useful only when you can connect to other behavior in your life. Compass surfaces insights from your phone and shows you how you live your life. Too many hours at the office? Eating right? Flu got you down? Too much phone light affecting your sleep? Compass helps you to see what’s affecting you, and how it affects you. Our vision with Compass is for it to be an interface for your life, and to change your future. In a world of non-stop information, we could all use a bit of reflection – followed by action!

Join the Compass Alpha!

Compass is being made available as an alpha to attendees of the Quantified Self Conference on June 18-20, 2015 in San Francisco, CA. Interested? Sign up for the alpha at, or stop by our conference booth during QS15 and say hello! Or check out @mycompassapp on Twitter.

Sign up for the alpha!

Where do we go from here?

We’ve tried to distill the best methods and insights from Dancy’s tracking process, but it will take time to get there. We’re looking for feedback and soliciting people to become alpha testers for the app. There are so many non-connected devices out there. It’s not about what you track – it’s about what happens when you tie what you track together. We’d love to know how we can improve Compass to help you understand your life better. Wins Most Useful App and Best in Show at CivicApps Award Ceremony

On Thursday, 29 October 2010 Portland CivicApps announced the winners of Round 2 of Apps for Greater Portland competition., an entry created originally for the International GWOB hackathon by Aaron Parecki and I won Most Useful App and Best in Show.

We were both surprised and excited to meet Mayor Sam Adams and learn about the other award-winning applications (all of which are listed below). We were also surprised to win some prize money, which we will use to provide food and prizes for future hackathons in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, as well as pay for server costs incurred by

About the App

Cross-platform Group Messaging and Location Beaconing for Disaster Relief

This application is a resource for citizens, medical teams and governments before, during and after disasters. allows mobile users to send an emergency GPS beacon to a real-time map. Crises responders can view all of the help requests on the webpage, along with hospitals and fire stations, real-time 911 calls related to natural disasters.

CivicApps Location Beacon Map

Ground teams can easily use on their mobile phones to send notices of supplies and terrain reports in real time. Remote helpers can easily see the whole picture on the website’s real-time map, handle help and information requests, and send messages to the network. supports subscription to group messages via SMS, AIM, Jabber and Twitter. No application installation is required. Location beacons can be sent simply by going to on a mobile phone.

CivicApps Award Winners!

Congratulations to the award winners and runners-up for this second round of app submissions to CivicApps! Here’s a list of the official winners of the second round of the CivicApps For Greater Portland Competition:

Most Useful App ($1000 prize award):

— Amber Case & Aaron Parecki for Cross-platform Group Messaging and Location Beaconing for Disaster Relief judged most useful and utility to citizens overall.

— Runners Up: Justin Palmer, Matt Blair, Joseph Mosser, Bill Wilson, Melelani Sax-Barnett

Most Appealing App ($1000 prize award):

— Matt Blair for PDX Trees judged most appealing in terms of design and usability.

— Runners Up: Amber Case & Aaron Parecki, Justin Palmer, Max Ogden, Joseph Mosser, Bill Wilson

Most Original App ($1000 prize award):

— Melelani Sax-Barnett for Portland Bike to Transit Map judged best originality, uniqueness and inventive nature.

— Runners Up: Amber Case & Aaron Parecki, Atul Mathur, Matt Blair, Max Ogden, Bill Wilson

Best Use of Data App ($1000 prize award):

— Max Ogden for CivicApps Data Previewer judged best overall utilization of the datasets.

— Runners Up: Amber Case & Aaron Parecki, Justin Palmer, Bill Wilson, Melelani Sax-Barnett, Dan Wilson

Civic Choice Award ($1000 prize award):

— Joseph Mosser for Pdxtrian for receiving the most public votes.

Best of Show Award ($3000 prize award):

— Amber Case & Aaron Parecki for Group Messaging and Location Beaconing for Disaster Relief judged top overall app.

Participate in CivicApps!

You can learn more about CivicApps at

Download the Source Code for is open source and free to use for anyone who wants to build on it. You can get the sourcecode for here on Github.