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The Fitbit API – Mathematica vs. Python

By June 7, 2015Data, Devices

I’m teaching a class later this year and part of what we will cover is how to explore data coming from wearables. I’ve had a Fitbit Zip for a while, and my plan is to collect data over the summer and then to use those data for class and for problem sets, so the students have real data to look at.

I thought I would use the Mathematica Connector (via its ServiceConnect[“Fitbit”] call) to get the data from the Fitbit API, but I quickly ran into various problems. The ServiceConnect functionality at present seems somewhat rudimentary. After spending a few hours on the internals of Mathematica’s OAuth.m and trying to get valid tokens from the undocumented HTTPClient`OAuthAuthentication call (can anyone tell me how to pass nontrivial OAuth 2.0 scopes into this function?), I gave up and just used the Python Fitbit client API, which all worked right away, since, among other reasons, there is actually documentation. I followed the instructions at first-steps-into-the-quantified-self-getting-to-know-the-fitbit-api. Once you have the 4 keys you need, just place them in a config.ini file and use something like this:

This gives you a JSON dump, which can then be manipulated in Mathematica:

The latter function gives the cumulative steps vs. time (I like CDFs!), which is nice way of seeing when you were moving (slope of line > 0). This requires partner access to the Fitbit API; I was impressed with their help (emails answered within minutes) and their enthusiastic support for education and our upcoming class.

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