I want to use my personal diabetes data as the source for my final project. I have information from:
- 3 devices – insulin pump and two glucose monitors (data from two devices is available through a .csv file, the final device through a .xml file).
- Google doc – lists everything I have eaten this year
- Glycemic index – I found this spreadsheet of glycemic values posted on the blog of another diabetic @ http://www.mendosa.com/GI_GL_Carb_data.xls
- Photos – food images
- Exercise – I use RunKeeper and Gmap-pedometer to track my distances
I will start by focusing on the insulin and food data. If I have time, I can include the exercise information. But the medication and nutritional data is more important to me for this project.
With this, I will produce a Processing sketch or a series of sketches. In class this week, we saw several examples of great work that inspired me. The first was Ben Fry’s On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces. As with many of Ben’s projects, it allows you to start with an overview and then drill down for more detailed information. I am particularly drawn to the animation. I have yet to build anything in Processing that uses the time function and works dynamically on this scale.
I was also inspired by Steve Varga’s Pennant iPad application, which was produced as his SVA thesis. It provides a thorough way of looking through baseball stats from many different directions.
The central issue with all this data is that it is hard to make sense of it all. I want to think about new ways of visualizing both the data and the relations between the different types of data so that people can learn more from it. I think the ideal system is one that stores this data and the right representation of that data in way that it is easily retrievable.
I expect that my representation will be best viewed on a large screen or in print. But if I have time, I’m also interested in experimenting with mobile device display. I think that would be most helpful for when people are eating at restaurants or shopping for food.
I plan on starting by visualizing my insulin data. The issue of latency is not addressed in any of the medical representations I have seen. Want I want to see is not when the dosages were taken, but how much insulin activity is happening right now. Perhaps the best way to do that is with a past, present and future view where a patient could use to adjust their medication/food balance.
In trying to find the glycemic index spreadsheet this week, I also learned about other terms including glycemic load and insulin index. So glycemic index categorizes a food on a scale of 0 to 100, determining whether the index is low, medium or high. This number tells you the degree to which the food causes a spike in blood sugars. Glycemic load takes the index number and factors in the quantity of food being eaten.
Insulin index is a newer way of trying to determine a food’s impact based on blood insulin levels rather than blood sugars levels. It is based on the idea that “some foods cause a disproportionate insulin response relative to their carbohydrate load,” like certain proteins for example. I have yet to hear someone talk about insulin index and there isn’t much data available about it, so I can’t incorporate that into this project.
I will need to decide whether to allow live access to my data or aggregate it before I start. Aggregation is difficult between devices because of proprietary software that looks like it was built in the 80s. Some of it only works on a PC desktop and doesn’t have a web interface. I have been working with a developer to aggregate all this data in a MongoDB database. But I haven’t worked out pulling data from it. But this issue is certainly addressable in some form.