Tim Althoff, assistant professor with the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. (UW Photo)
Turns out that we’re often pretty terrible at reporting on our own habits — how much we’re exercising, when we’re sleeping and feel rested. But what we are good at is engaging with a wide variety of technology 24/7.
“Walking around with our smartphones and wearable devices, the devices actually generate massive digital traces of our behavior in the real world,” said Tim Althoff, an assistant professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.
Althoff and his team are tapping into this data in some unexpected ways in order to tease out a better understanding of human health, including insights into sleep and performance, exercise and health inequality, and mental health and counseling.
Althoff shared his research Wednesday at a talk titled “Data Science for Human Well-Being” presented at the Paul G. Allen School’s 2019 Annual Research Showcase.
To gain insight into how sleep cycles correlate with our ability to function, Althoff paired data on the speed at which people type and click in the Bing search engine with sleep monitoring information collected from Microsoft Band, a wearable activity tracker.
The link between sleep and performance using a search engine can provide insights into cognitive abilities. People type and click fastest roughly two or three hours after waking and slow down over the course of a day. (Tim Althoff Image)
He found that typing speed peaked roughly two hours after someone wakes up, which matches generally accepted sleep research looking at when people are most alert and validated the approach as a means for investigating sleep and performance. The study also looked at the effects of insufficient sleep over one or multiple nights on cognitive …read more