; Kyle wears the NeuroSky Mindset, an open source Bluetooth EEG device, and holds his hacked Fitbit that now gives him access to all the biometric data it collects.
a single user’s data is just software drivers,
yes. If the manufacturer gives the user the
ability to upload data to a hosted site, we
should be able to get at it without having
to upload it.
The bigger problem is turning around
and using that data once you have it to
diagnose using a sample size larger than
one. This is where the hardware manufacturers excel, as they’re getting data from
hundreds/thousands/millions of users
that they can process, learn from, and
create services on top of. But there’s not
really a way for users themselves to
puters, and they have always been very
GW: So if there were open Quantified
Self platforms, anybody could make an
alternative data aggregation site?
KM: On the face of it, yes. But then there
are the issues of hosting costs, user privacy guarantees, and so on. It’s a violently
complex problem, of which the engineering
is the easy part.
GW: What’s your attitude toward EULAs
and other legal restraints on hacking
hardware? Ignore, obey, or something
KM: I just take the “ask forgiveness, not
permission” philosophy. Of course, “
forgiveness” in this case can sometimes
mean, “Please stop the lawsuits.”
A lot of times, though, what I’m doing
is legal. Since I’m working on fairly simple
hardware that communicates over USB,
I “own” the line between the device and my
computer. And since that’s what I’m usually tapping, it’s within DMCA-level legality.
I’m never really aiming to divert funds
out of someone’s business or be malicious.
I just want things to work the way I want
them to, but I don’t want to have to manufacture them myself.
GW: What practical wisdom do you have
for people who might want to follow in
KM: With reverse engineering, the big
hope should be that one day, you’re not
needed anymore. That means we’ve won. ;
GW: Do your parents know you do this
with your time?
KM: My parents were both computer
programmers, so I grew up around com-
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