One of the most common questions we often get from our customers is "How do I use my devices and ActiLife?" and "I really have no idea where to even start. Can you please help me?". The purpose of this article is to hopefully provide a step-by-step guide to get the most from our state of the art Activity Monitors and the powerful suite of Data Scoring and Analysis tools found in ActiLife. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be using ActiLife 6.x installed on 64-bit Windows 7 Professional and one of our new ANT+ Enabled wireless devices, the wActiSleep+. While some of the options available to you may differ depending on the device you are using and the version of ActiLife you have installed, it should all be very similar.
If you have not yet installed ActiLife, please do so by following the steps outlined in this FAQ article.
The very first thing you need to do is make sure your device is charged. All devices ship from us in a partially charged state and in "Halt" mode. This simply means that the device is in a low power state and needs to be initialized before being deployed (think of it as similar to needing to fully charge and activate a new cell phone before you can use it). Charging our devices is a very simple process; simply connect the device to an available USB port on your computer using a USB cable. If there are no problems with the device, the USB port or the cable itself, the LED on the device should begin to blink, indicating that it is charging. Please refer to this FAQ for more information on what the various LED patterns mean. Fully charging a device can take 2 to 3 hours on average, depending on the level of charge on the battery. Once the device is fully charged, the LED will remain solid while connected to your computer.
Once ActiLife has been installed and activated and the device has fully charged, we're ready to get started. There are five basic steps involved in this process; Initialization, data collection, downloading that data, validating wear-time, and analyzing the data that you have collected. We refer to these 5 basic steps as the ActiLife WorkFlow Process.
- Initialization refers to the process of preparing the accelerometer to collect activity data from your research subjects.
- Data Collection refers to the act of collecting activity data from your subjects.
- Downloading means retrieving the collected data from the device and getting it onto your computer for analysis.
- Validating Wear-time refers to the process of flagging activity data as either Wear-Time (the subject was wearing the device and engaging in some sort of activity) or Non-Wear Time (the subject was either motionless or not wearing the device) using internally developed algorithms.
- Analyzing refers to scoring the data using the tools in ActiLife (Energy Expenditure, METS, Sleep analysis, etc).
We will go into details on all of these steps later in this FAQ. While you may not be responsible for all of these steps in your research (i.e. you may only be downloading devices or scoring data collected from other researchers), understanding the work flow is beneficial because you will understand how each step is an important part of the process.
At the end of this overview of ActiLife, we will take a step by step walk through of the actual workflow process from start to finish using Epoch data created from sample activity data so that you will have a solid understanding of this Work Flow Process.
First, it might be helpful to go over the various tabs in ActiLife and briefly explain how you will use the different areas regardless of whether you are doing everything yourself or if you are only responsible for one particular aspect. Click here to get started.