Designing to Help People Find Insights & Experiences in Personal Data

3 February 2017
University of California Irvine Department of Informatics
UCI Event Website

Fitness tracking devices, smartphone apps, and other tools that help people automatically track data about every facet of their lives are becoming increasingly prevalent. There are now several thousand health tracking applications, and many others for tracking personal data such as location, mood, productivity, and finances.

This rapid growth in applications and sensors help people collect more digital traces of their lives has not been accompanied by similar growth in tools to help them make sense of this data. Consequently, people are often overwhelmed by the data they collect, do not know what conclusions to draw, and become frustrated or discontinue use of their tracking tools. Sean will discuss his research on this topic, including trackers' goals, the barriers they face to achieving them, and new designs that help address these barriers throughout the process of self-tracking. Techniques to be discussed include new ways to visualize and explore data and to test hypotheses that result, strategies for sharing data, and ways for users to collaboratively review data.

Slides (78MB PDF) · YouTube


Sean is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering and a member of the DUB group. Working primarily in the domains of health and wellbeing and exposure to diverse information, he designs and evaluates techniques for helping people make sense of data about themselves and the world around them.

Sean completed a BS in Engineering at Olin College in 2006 and his PhD at the University of Michigan's School of Information in 2012. Previously, Sean was a political blogger and, while working at Boeing, designed concepts for future passenger airplane interiors. He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award.

smunson at uw dot edu
323D Sieg Building
Campus Box 352315

Seattle, WA 98195
Pronouns: he / him