The HAT Hyperdata Browser

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The HAT Hyperdata Browser


The HAT hyperdata browser


I’m starting this blogpost with a story, so that you understand why we do what we do. But before the story, here’s some background.

There is a theory in sociology called structuration theory, formed by Giddens. In a nutshell, structures, like columns and doors (physical structures) both enable and disable practices. It tells us where to walk (doorway) but it tells us where you cannot walk (no doorway). Structures can be social as well, and these are the social norms we live by, such as eating with chopsticks, shaking hands, social norms that generally dictate what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour.

The way I teach structures and its application in innovation is to illustrate it with a story.

Imagine a vast field that separates a road from a village. There are no paths on the field and by the nature of not having a path, people are reluctant to walk across, going round it instead. The inertia to create a path is high and the uncertainty of what might be the right path, or the most suitable path is in question as there is no guide. So it’s easier to go around. This illustrates that without structure, often the result is that of no action (no one crosses the field). Innovating something completely new is a bit like that.

Let’s now assume some innovative person actually creates a path. A curvy path across the field that doesn’t go straight across but takes a more roundabout way. Immediately, everyone uses it as it is the most efficient way to get to the village (faster than getting around it). However, it becomes clear that since this path is not the most efficient path, there are many critics. People will complain about its inefficiency and how a more efficient path would be better and after awhile, you will see a path that goes directly to the village emerge from this path. This means that incremental innovation is easier, because there is a guide on what is incremental.

How is this relevant to the HAT? Some of you know that the HAT is not just a data repository. The HAT has a schema that liberates the data from its vertical structures. The intent is that human lives are lived across vertical industries so for the HAT to be useful for human lives, the data has to be liberated so that horizontal bundles can be created. For example, you might bring your email data into the HAT and it just becomes [from (Person), to (person), date, subject (text) and content (text)] just as bringing Fitbit data coming into the HAT to become [pulse (number), steps (number), date, time, calories (number)] and the phone data can come in as [call from (person), call to (person), location, time]. Once these data in their vertical structures are liberated and become ‘flattened’, they can be linked by time, by person, by location and by the sensor (measurement) in new mashups and new ‘horizontal’ bundles to help serve the person and create new services around personal data. So you can perhaps bundle all interactions with your spouse (By person) whether it is a calendar entry or a phone call or even a photograph. You can link location, thing, sensor (like content or images or temperatures), time and multiple persons in all sorts of new ways and these links are established by you in a way that is meaningful to you (hence, the HAT allows you to contextualise and create your own bundles of data). New apps could be created around liberated personal data bundled in all sorts of ways.

The issue, of course is that once you liberate the data, you get loads and loads of data around all our interactions but how do you ‘see’ it? Vertical structures of data not just organise the data, but also allow you to view it in a certain way. So an email looks like … Er… email, your Spotify account looks like a music browser/player, and your smart home has a dashboard for the controls of the home. Once they are ‘flattened’, and are able to be linked and cross referenced by location, time, thing, sensor and person, the possibilities of viewing it in so many ways are limitless, much like the number of possibilities of paths across the field is limitless.

What is the best way of viewing the ‘flattened’ data? Like the path across the field, we don’t know what is the best way, but we do know that if we provide one way (ie a path), there will be many others who can suggest a better way. And if there are many ways, the best way will prevail. There is some history to this. When the World Wide Web first came to existence, this was how the first website looked like. Like the www and hypertext links and the onset of browsers to make sense of a world of texts and images on servers everywhere, we now have to create the ¬†first ‘hyperdata’ browser for HAT data and expect that there will be many out there who will do a much better job at it. And from the hyperdata browser, creativity will hopefully kick in and new mashups and apps around our different types of personal data will occur. Note that this is the browser based on what the individual can see of his own data and the data shared with him by others. It cannot be seen by anyone else. There will be other external type browsers out there based on data the user is willing to share. But the www takes care of that ūüėČ


¬†Screenshots of the Fibaro iPad app from the home of a digital person zero (DP0) who has donated the data to the HAT.¬†The HAT team gratefully acknowledges the DP0 and family for their support and cooperation. All sensors and connected devices in the DP0’s home have been sponsored by Fibaro and DP0 personal funds and not paid for through HAT project funds. The HAT team thanks Fibaro for their support of the project.


So here’s our first attempt at a personal ‘hyperdata’ browser based on flattened HAT data of one Digital person zero (DP0) who has donated data to the HAT project. Many thanks to Fibaro (our smart home partner) data on the HAT, the Beauty Box and toilet roll devices created by the HAT Cambridge and Edinburgh teams respectively, here is a sample HAT data that you can play with. There are a few mashups already created from it. More will follow. Fitbit, Facebook, Google Calendar and Withings data coming into this HAT will be coming up soon, so remember to bookmark the site.

HAT hyperdata browser:

(Take note that the HAT hyperdata browser is part of the HAT economic and business models research project. And it’s a work in progress on playing with data, views, bundles, mashups so don’t expect it to work well ;)). ¬†Our HAT platform providers (HPPs) Enable iD and Noggin (see press release) will have their own interfaces and user experiences for their own roll-outs. As they are in the live market and commercial spaces, their HAT user experience will certainly be more slick than ours! Check their websites when they begin to roll out HATs later this year and don’t forget to sign up for the first one million unique IDs when they are released to the HPPs!)

Can you think of new mashups (contexts) around the flattened and liberated HAT personal data and new services and business models  to help us co-create value with our data that will help us in daily lives? And also to share with others for cool apps? Post your comments below!

The HAT Beauty Box, which collects data on the use of personal products in the home
The HAT Beauty Box, which collects data on the use of personal products in the home
The HAT's instrumented toilet roll holder
The HAT’s instrumented toilet roll holder

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