Category: Internet

Curious tools: Google Correlate

Google Correlate is an experimental new tool on Google Labs which enables you to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. The target can either be a real-world trend that you provide (e.g., a data set of event counts over time) or a query that you enter. Google Correlate contains web search activity data from January 2003 to present. The data is updated weekly.

So this is pretty much a great tool to look at real World trends as it uses web search activity data to find queries with a similar pattern to a target data series. Some of the findings can be quite interesting.

Let’s look at this example searching for “losing weight”

New Picture (6)The highest correlation coefficient is with the search “burn calories” and you can see not only the worrying trend of increase in such search trend, but also the seasonality of the search if you zoom into the graph.

New Picture (7)

And you can clearly see that between December and January is when new years’ resolutions kick in as well as the bikini sindrome in the summer months.

Now, let’s try something a bit more relevant to sport. Let’s try “doping”, as you can see, there are peaks of searches and the highest correlation coefficient is with “what is doping”.

New Picture (8)

with peaks in May 2010….when Landis admitted taking performance enhancing drugs and pointed the finger at Lance Armstrong.

New Picture (9)The word “Testosterone” has the highest correlation coefficient with “Natural Levels”. And there seems to be a growing interest in such search word, I hope only because people are interested in the science….

New Picture (11) 

The search for “Strength training” really worried me. A part from the highest correlation coefficient with “Exercise” what worries me is the decline in its use for web search. Does it mean we should expected a reduction of interest towards this form of exercise?

New Picture (12)

So, to double check I looked at the search word “Bodybuilding”…and I got really worried as the highest correlation was with “death index”….whatever that means

New Picture (13)

Really an interesting tool. You can look at it yourself on:

Another tool is Google Trends. Even cooler, as it allows you to study search volumes and look at specific media-related events. Again, when searching for volumes of searches of the keyword “Doping” specific events where highlighted.


Brilliant stuff from Google Labs. Keep them coming!

Withings Body Scale review

I have been recently trialling an interesting new device: a Wi-fi scale. Absolutely brilliant concept: a scale which can transmit data via wireless connection to a server and have data available online via a web application or an iphone application.

After contacting the producer, I received the parcel and have been using the scale for a week and I am very pleased with it. Here is how it looks:


withingsIt has a very nice design with a durable tempered glass slab and a large backlit graphic screen. It is battery powered and very easy to use as it automatically turns on when you stand on it and it turns off within few seconds of inactivity.

It arrived in a nice small package of a total weight of 2.5 kg!

Setting it up

The scale comes with a manual in many languages, batteries and a USB cable to connect it to a PC for the initial setup. The initial setup requires downloading a software to set the scale up in your home or work network in order to be able to send the data to the web server. The process is simple, however my scale took few trials to be recognised as it filed to be connected to my home wi-fi. However after updating the firmware it all worked nicely, scale recognised and ready to go.

There is a very useful forum on the website of the company with a lot of up to date hints to solve every possible problem. Also, looking at the frequency of posts on the forum it seems that the support is quite efficient.



All the specifications are indicated here, however the most important ones are:

– The ability to decide the unit of measurement

– The possibility to have body composition and BMI analysis

– Personalised multi-user monitoring

– Software for data sharing and analysis

Graduation 0.1 kg and maximum weight 180 kg



Body Composition Measurements

The website does not specify how body composition is measured (in terms of what equations, how accurate and how valid such measurements are). I assume it is through bioelectrical impedance analysis. However it would be useful to have such data as accuracy of such measurements is crucial for its use in an athletic population. Also, I believe the normative data included in the software refer to the general population hence having very heavy muscular athletes might result in some high scores in BMI.


The software is very simple, user friendly and is also available as an iphone application. The screens are user friendly and you can manually input data as well as add comments and delete data. It is very useful to track how your body mass is changing and keep records (sadly it informs you that it is about time you start dieting and exercise more!)


The software allows you to share the information and/or to print /save reports



Support, news and other useful stuff

Withings has a very useful Blog which is an incredible source of update for accessory software needs and anything specific to the Withings scale. They have recently developed a widget for Mac users, included their platform within GYMTECHNIK, and most of all, connected the scale to Microsoft Health Vault (Very interesting product of which I promise to write something about very soon).

The scale unfortunately supports only up to 8 users, which means is perfect for a family, but a bit challenging if you are a professional working within the fitness industry with many clients and/or with elite athletes and squads. However I am sure that some customised hardware and software solutions will be available soon for such demands.


All in all a great tool with a lot of potential to be used with athletes travelling on training camps and facilitate the storage and recording of data where there is a wi-fi connection. Absolutely a great tool for a family as it allows to track everyone’s body weight very efficiently. More information on its accuracy and on the validity and reliability of the body fat measurements is warranted before recommending it to a group of elite athletes.

Thank you!


Thank you for taking your time to visit my blog and read my articles. This year the blog received more than 7000 visits from 6 continents.

New Picture

Most of the visits were from Europe and North America with some visits from Africa and a larger number than last year from Asia and Oceania.

Unfortunately due to many changes at work I was unable to write many articles, I hope to be better in 2010. The field of sports and exercise science is moving very quickly and there is plenty of topics to talk about and discuss by means of this blog.

I would like to wish all the readers all the best for 2010!