One Button Tracker

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One Button Trackers are small hardware devices that record discrete observations on the press of the button by recording when the button was pressed, and typically also for how long (and in same cases also how hard it has been pressed). Different versions of this device exist, a first prototype was created by TOTTI Labs. And Gedankenstuecke adapted the Puck.js by writing some small software that turns the device it into a One Button Tracker.

TOTTI Labs One Button Tracker[edit | edit source]

This device is still in the prototype phase and is not for sale through any normal channel. The TOTTI Labs people might be able to provide one if asked, but a lack of access routes remains a barrier to using their one-button.

Puck.js-based One Button Tracker[edit | edit source]

The Puck.js is a small bluetooth enabled beacon which also includes an accelerometer, temperature sensor and light sensor as well as a button. It can be programmed via JavaScript. Gedankenstuecke made a website which allows to turn a standard Puck.js into a One Button Tracker.

Pros:

  • readily available to buy online
  • comparatively cheap (~25 GBP)
  • simple to set up
  • completely open source, can be improved and adapted to other use cases

Cons:

  • not specifically designed for the use as a one button tracker, thus:
    • prone to accidental button presses
    • website for data export doesn't always work as expected
    • can break comparatively easily (e.g. when sitting on it) and requires open hardware skills to fix it
    • if data is not regularly downloaded and wiped from Puck.js, the memory can run over, leading to loss of data

Flic buttons[edit | edit source]

The Flic buttons are commercially available, closed-source smart buttons that can be used for a range of tasks[1] and that has three distinct button presses that can be mapped to functions: short press, long press, double-press. The main focus of the manufacturer seems to be on "smart homes", the buttons can also be connected to a phone via bluetooth and button presses can trigger actions on the phone.

Through automation services like IFTTT, a Flic button can be used to write button presses to a Google Sheet[2]. The Flic button requires to have a Bluetooth connection to a phone that is connected to the internet for this approach to work.

Setup[edit | edit source]

To use a Flic as a one-button tracker one needs to

  1. connect the Flic button to the phone through the Flic app
  2. connect the Flic app to IFTTT through the "Provider" menu
  3. select the "Trigger IFTTT applet" action for each of the button press-types that one wants to record
  4. go to IFTTT and select Flic as the trigger input, chose the button you want to use and which types of button presses you want to connect
  5. on IFTTT select "Google Sheets" as the output, select a name for the sheet you want the data to be stored in as well as the columns you want the sheet to have

As the Flic might be accidentally pressed when carried in a pocket etc, it might be useful to only use the 'double click' for doing real data recordings.

References[edit | edit source]

Linked content on this wiki[edit source]

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Projects that use this tool  
Autoethnography using one button tracker and Jupyter notebook, Smartphone Disengagement, Tracking smoking habits
Self researchers who used this tool  
Gedankenstuecke, Esenabre, Esenabre, Gedankenstuecke
We talked about this tool in the following meetings  
2021-09-09 Self-Research Chat, 2021-09-30 Self-Research Chat, 2022-01-13 Self-Research Chat, 2022-02-03 Self-Research Chat, 2022-07-14 Self-Research Chat, 2022-07-28 Self-Research Chat, 2022-08-11 Self-Research Chat, 2022-10-20 Self-Research Chat