At heart, DIYers are non-conformists. We scan the shelves at stores and see many choices that sort-of, almost, kinda nail what we were going for. But being slightly dissatisfied is never an afterthought—we take matters into our own hands and build the missing link: a better, cooler, customized version that does exactly what we need it to do.
In spirit of Father’s Day, we are featuring a DIY project built by Michael Woolfenden, a rising senior at Penn State, for his dad, who needed a better way to track his activity and fitness levels. It’s the ultimate fitness dashboard that integrates data from various self-tracking devices and centralizes the information in one easily accessible place. Michael took some time to tell us about the project, and the motivations behind it:
My dad has been a “gadget nut” for as long as I can remember. His latest fascination is with his own activity and fitness tracking and gadgets that can help him do it better. When I started to overhear him talk about how limited the sharing of the data captured by each device is and how some vendors would share—via pre-built interfaces—with other vendors but not all were openly sharing with each other, I became inspired to help him use multiple activity, weight, and blood pressure tracking devices from multiple vendors to track his activity and fitness better.
The challenge here is that my dad did not want to use only tracking devices from a single vendor; he wanted to use devices that were of lower cost and more specialized to his needs than generic trackers provided by the dashboard vendor.
Michael was able to build his own centralized dashboard with an Arduino Yún and Temboo’s Choreo-building tool, Twyla. He designed a customized Choreo to link together the various data sources that he was reading from such as Runkeeper, Fitbit, and the Human API, and then store the information he gathered in his dashboard; that way, he was able to run the whole process through his Yún. Michael explained:
I am not a developer, so to keep things simple, I chose to develop my project using Arduino Yún hardware, its supporting Sketch language IDE, and the Temboo Twyla builder tool, which was used to orchestrate the HTTP requests and Choreos together into a master Choreo that is executed by the Arduino Yún to perform all of the data sharing on a daily basis.
The result is that, on a daily basis, Michael’s dad is able to check all of his vitals, aggregated and organized for a clear view of his progress. Thanks to this integration, he no longer needs to dig through all of his different fitness apps to make sense of the data his devices throw at him; he can simply check one place, once a day, and understand his fitness progress—seamlessly.
Michael closed with some advice for non-developers like him who are giving programming a try for themselves:
I did run into a few minor roadblocks and learning curve issues with both the Temboo platform/Twyla IDE and the Arduino Yún, its IDE, and its Sketch language. It turned out that every one of my challenges could be overcome with a little help from Temboo support.
If you are building anything cool with Temboo, reach out to us with details at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be our next feature!