Wearable device that pushes data somewhere? Nerves?

I have a project idea and would love to ask your general opinion:

Long story short, I want to gather data (aka spy) on my grandma. :slight_smile:

My grandma (nana from now on) and I are very close. She is basically my mom.

I’d like to potentially use Nerves, or any other technology that already
exists, to finish this project. I don’t need to use Nerves, but I think the
folks here are the best and could maybe give insight on the problem itself. I’d
love if Nerves were the answer for this, even if clunky.

My MVP would be something that can email/push data to a server where I can
monitor. The end result is a csv with nana data that gets stored somewhere. I’m
interested in common data points that wearables can track these days and I’d
settle for a daily step count as the MVP. Heart rate as a stretch goal. After
doing quite a bit of research on existing tech (and unfortunately coming up
short) I wanted to reach out here and see what you all think about this.

Why the existing stuff doesn’t apply, as far as I can tell:

  • The existing workflow for wearables is having a smartphone to interface with
    the device and sync the data to the phone. This is done by an app. The one I
    have experience with is called VeryFitPro. You can’t push the data anywhere from that app.

  • I bought this device: http://a.co/bEtD6mF, and went through the normal
    workflow. The data is displayed, but it is kept on the device itself. There
    is no server that stores this data, no website to visit, at least in the
    cheap version I bought.

  • The ones that do provide the “upload data” functionality have software that
    help with the upload and manages data. this step is manual. I’d like it to be kind of a cron job
    that pushes today’s activity up somewhere.

  • I don’t feel comfortable having nana wear a very expensive device on a daily
    basis for safety concerns. So the ideal solution would be something cheaper,
    that doesn’t get everyone’s attention.

I’d love to gather data on her activity. I could use it to try to correlate
physical activity with potential arthritis/physical pain. Maybe things hurt a couple of
days after she over exerts herself. Maybe, it doesn’t have anything to do with

I’ve been keeping track of her Duolingo progress and it has been awesome.
Duolingo sends reports via email, my email :).

Does this make sense? Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!!!


  • Disclaimer: Nana data will only be used for good things. We are doing this
    together and she is happy about it :).

So assuming the device needs to be battery powered, you might be better off with an Arduino or similar solution. I’ve not tried it recently, but powering even the puny rpi0w via battery power was surprisingly difficult to get any longevity. The Beam isn’t exactly optimized for low power consumption


Echoing @ConnorRigby here:

There was design work on a pHAT that has a real time clock and the ability to completely power the Pi down and power it back on at intervals with access to the power/timing via GPIO. With that approach, having intermittent data collection would be reasonable on battery. Without something like that, power management is tricky and inefficient on the Pi (even the zero). I believe that design stalled due to other alternatives and lack of interest, but I could inquire if you’re interested in moving forward with an Elixir wearable. I can also share some of my own perspective with the OpenAPS rigs if you’d like, but it’s a little more information than would be useful in a discussion like this. There’s a hardware-dev gitter chat for OpenAPS that could be relevant for wearable tiny computers that collect data: https://gitter.im/openaps/hardware-dev.

An Arduino/microcontroller approach seems like it would be better for data collection, and Adafruit has lots of wearable tutorials and content.

Alternatively, using an Edison might be more in line with your needs if you want to run Elixir on a wearable since its design sips power compared to Pi, but it’s closer to the expensive side that you want to avoid.


Also for what it’s worth the beaglebone type boards are supposedly more low power friendly, although I have zero experience using them.

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Hey! I wanted to update you on this. After doing a little bit more research, it turns out that Fitbit has an api that I can query and get the data I wanted. From what I see, there isn’t a cheaper alternative than the Fitbit at the moment. Maybe their price has this service built into it, which is completely fine.

I built a little app that emails me with data I wanted, currently reporting on my wife. When I see Nana next I’ll “deploy” the live version :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help!! (I wish I could “close” this)