Saga knows when you’ve been sleeping, it knows when you’re awake; it knows where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and, perhaps most importantly, what you should be doing.
Saga is a “life logging” app that passively captures data about your activities and presents it in a comprehensible form, with insights and recommendations. The company released an updated version today with social features that let you share this information easily with friends.
The app automatically collects data from the sensors in your phone, as well as through the applications you use, such as Facebook, Twitter, BodyMedia, FourSquare, and Instagram. It maintains a “life log” with all this information to learn about your habits and preferences and track your behavior over time. Saga builds a complete profile of who you are and uses artificial intelligence technology to make timely suggestions of things you may want or need to do, like visiting a cool bar nearby or making a trip to the grocery store.
“Collecting data was step one for us, but at the end of the day, it is just a mirror,” cofounder CEO Andy Hickl told VentureBeat in an interview. “Now we want to make Saga a lot more open and social. We are living in a world where so much of social media is a performance, but I think we are seeing a pendulum shift where people want to share stories that are authentic, not constructed.”
Smartphones create incredible opportunities to collect data, and the “quantified self” movement has exploded over the past few years as a result. The Pew Research Center found that 21 percent of individuals track themselves using apps and devices, and 34 percent share their data or notes with someone else. Furthermore, 46 percent of trackers say this activity has changed their overall approach to health.
Hickl’s vision extends beyond health, however. Exercise and dietary habits are just one part of an overall story that Saga stitches together from your mobile device and puts into one cohesive representation. This representation may yield some surprises, like how much time a week you spend in your car or that you used to visit bars more frequently than you do now. Hickl said the ability to access this kind of information about your friends and family opens up new ways to connect.
“I can check in on my buddy to see how he is spending his time and how he is doing,”he said. “I had one friend lecture me about how often I was eating fast food, and I was able to know without asking that my coworker had family in town last weekend. This is about tapping into that deeper human, innate driver to discover and communicate.”
Privacy, is of course, a major concern for Saga and its users. Hickl said the company will never sell or give away personal data and users have complete control over what is shared. They can choose to share their Foursquare data, but not their FitBit, or choose not to share anything at all. Users can also follow people whose lives they are interested in seeing.
Seattle-based Saga was founded in June 2011 out of parent company A.R.O.. The team spent the first 18 months focusing on getting its data collection as accurate as possible and refining the analytics so inferences and recommendations are useful. Around 60,000 people tested Saga in private beta. Hickl said that Saga’s users are equally split across iPhone and Android and the company has been able to get the battery consumption down to 1 percent an hour. The app is free.
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