When designing SAMI, we thought about users, data sources (aka devices) and developers who would be creating applications and services. Once we started addressing the theme of “digital health,” it was immediately clear that we should build tools to support professionals such as researchers and doctors who need to collect data in a well-defined time frame and with a defined set of devices. The term that kept coming up was “trials.” Together with our friends at IMEC, UCSF CDHI and other research institutions, we came up with the SAMI Trial Tools.
Most often, we hear the term “trials” used in medical and research contexts. We want to emphasize that the SAMI Trial Tools are open to everyone. Whether you’re building a school project or a beta of your next application, if you want to collect data from a controlled group of users, you can take advantage of these tools.
Today I’ll be talking about the Web apps that we created to support trials. The Trials Admin tool is designed for the researchers that administer the trial, while the Trials Participant tool is designed for trial participants to manage which data they share with which trials. Because SAMI is all about data and developers, we made the APIs available to everyone and the Web apps available on GitHub as open source.
A new trial
So where do we get started? The first thing to do is create a trial at our Trials Admin site. Login with your Samsung account credentials, or create them anew. Once you are in, click on the “NEW TRIAL” button on the top right.
Fill the form like in the screenshot below. It is important that you specify one or more of the device types that you want to support in your trial. Enter at least one device type to get started, and you can review or modify your choices later. In my case I’d like to support a Withings scale, a FitBit and Simband. We have a couple of each of these devices in the office, so it’ll be easy to recruit some colleagues as my guinea pigs. For now, I will save the trial without inviting any participants, and I’ll show you how to do that in a second.
Now that I have created a trial, I am returned to the dashboard and I can see a list of all my trials. If you are managing more than one trial, this page is going to come in handy. Now I can go ahead and click on my new trial.
Let’s invite a few users. (Recipients don’t need to be SAMI users, but are free to create an account when they receive the invitation.) Today I want to keep it small: I’ll invite myself, my colleague Yujing and Barack Obama. I wonder if he will accept my invitation.
Each of them will receive an email like this:
On the trial page, I can always see my active and inactive participants. Inactive participants are those users who either have not accepted my invitation, or have decided not to join. At any point you can look at the list, revoke the invitation (remove the user from your trial) and re-send the invitation. It looks like I have forgotten to sign up for my own trial.
Trials in SAMI are always open to more users. Just click on “INVITE MORE” on the trial page to add users or administrators to your project.
As a trial administrator, I mainly want to do three things: manage participants (we’ve just seen that), look at data with the convenience of a Web browser, and extract data for further analysis. SAMI lets me look at my users’ data (within the limits of what they decided to share with me) with the same awesome visualization tool that is available to users. I can zoom in or out, and I can move back and forth in time. And when users are sharing their data in real-time, I can also see that.
Data is normally shown for one user at a time. I might be managing a trial with hundreds of participants, however, so it could get very complex. This tool is ideal to monitor your users, make sure everything is working as expected, and look for specific data points at specific points in time. This is how it looks for my test device:
For an engineer or a researcher, this is great. But if I want to pick out broader patterns, or compare specific data points across a large group of users, I need something different. Because SAMI does not discriminate on the tools I want to use, it allows me to export data in formats that are sufficiently ubiquitous and also very easy to manipulate.
At any point in time, I can click the link “CREATE NEW” to define a new data export. SAMI currently has a limit of one month of data so that the archive is not massive (we tested with data sets that are a couple of gigabytes, and it works great), and I can select different combinations of filters. SAMI allows me to export data as a CSV, in case I want to import it to Excel or (more likely) MATLAB. But I can also export data in a JSON format that is friendly to basically every programming language. Once I’m done with my selection, the system saves the job and emails me when my download is ready. This is my latest export:
For my users
The interface of the Trials Participant tool is laser-focused on accepting and managing the trials you are part of. As a user, I can see a list of trials, and exactly which devices I am sharing with each trial. Once I have accepted to join a trial as a participant, I can easily disconnect my device if the trial has ended or I don’t want to be part of it anymore. As a user, I might never even need to visit this site.
With Trials Admin I can manage test groups to collect and analyze data. I have the ease of a Web interface to manage my users, look at data and export it to any computer I want. Anywhere in the world. The SAMI team has spent months of work to create this tool, but we know there is a lot more to do. For this reason, we made it available on GitHub as open source. We look forward to your feedback, suggestions and pull requests! Start collecting data now—because you know it’s all about the data.