What's new on Beiwe

Digital phenotyping research platform

Fix
July 08, 2021

Resolved: Data download and survey scheduling temporarily down

Our developers have fixed the bug in Beiwe's processing that has impacted data download and survey scheduling from 7/1/21 until now. Survey notifications were sent out this afternoon and data processing is also catching up, so you should be able to download the data shortly.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter, I know that it has been frustrating.

Please reach out to kcarlson@hsph.harvard.edu if you have any questions or concerns.

- Beiwe team

New
June 29, 2021

Foreground Service and Ambient Audio Collection

The new foreground service and ambient audio collection have officially been released for Android. These features will be available in the 3.1.0 version of the Android Beiwe app, which is now available on studies.beiwe.org/download and the Google Play Store.

Foreground Service: the Android app now has a persistent notification that tells you it's collecting data. This should accomplish three things:

1) Re-enable data collection from the accelerometer and gyroscope when the app is in the background, for Android OS versions 9 and above.

2) Enables Beiwe to push updates to the Google Play Store. Google enacted a policy last month prohibiting apps that use the background location data permission unless Google specifically approves the app. This policy hasn't affected existing versions of the Beiwe app on Google Play, but it does block us from updating the app until we make the change. So the Foreground Service enables us to keep collecting location data without doing it from the background.

3) Enable ambient audio collection.

Ambient Audio Collection: this is a feature that you can toggle on or off for a study on the Device Settings Page. It's off by default for all current and new studies. Here's how it works:

The app records data to an unencrypted temporary file on the phone. Every 15 minutes, it writes the temp file to a permanent encrypted file, deletes the unencrypted temp file, and then starts over again. Only the encrypted files get uploaded. So there is temporarily unencrypted data on the phone, but it gets purged every 15 minutes. This is the same architecture Beiwe has been using for the Audio Surveys since 2014. Eli devised an architecture for the text files that lets the Beiwe app write them so they're encrypted line-by-line, but we haven't been able to come up with an easy parallel solution for the audio files, so we use this temp file paradigm instead.

It records all data as MP4 files, using the same parameters as the regular/compressed audio surveys.

These audio files are not batched into hour-long chunks the way most of the passive data files are. So when a researcher downloads them, they'll get a series of MP4 files that should each be about 15 minutes long. The filename includes the timestamp from the end of the recording, not the beginning.

For information on how to update the Android app, please view our blog.

Please check back for updates and if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to kcarlson@hsph.harvard.edu.

- Beiwe team

Fix
June 08, 2021

Fix: Bulk User Creation

Several study teams had noted that they were having issues with IDs created using bulk user creation. Upon registration using one of these IDs, participants would receive the message "An unknown error has occurred."

Bulk user creation is now working again on production. If you have any further issues, please reach out to kcarlson@hsph.harvard.edu

- Beiwe team

New
June 03, 2021

Halt Data Collection Feature Release

We have recently released a new halt data collection feature. Using this feature, a researcher can unregister a phone from inside the web interface on studies.beiwe.org, and that will block the participant's phone from uploading any further data. The phone might continue to collect data (if the patient hasn’t uninstalled the app), but it would just sit on the phone in an encrypted state, and it wouldn’t be possible for the patient (or anyone who obtains the patient’s phone) to decrypt it. Once the patient uninstalls the app, all data collected by the app that’s still on the phone would be automatically deleted.

For more information on the feature, including a screencast please visit our blog.

Please email kcarlson@hsph.harvard.edu with any questions.

- Beiwe team

Fix
June 02, 2021

Fix: iOS Ghost Notifications

Several groups have reported issues of ghost notifications on the iOS version of Beiwe. Users would receive a notification but upon opening the app, there would be no surveys on their home screen. Zagaran is working on a more comprehensive fix but for now, there is a workaround.

To access a survey in Beiwe, you must click directly on the notification rather than opening the application. Once you click on the notification it will take you to the app home screen where your survey will be available.

To view a how-to screencast, visit our blog.

- Beiwe team

Coming Soon
April 30, 2021

Foreground Service and Ambient Audio Collection Release

We are currently testing and preparing to release our foreground service and ambient audio collection for Android. These features will be available starting in version 3.1.0 of the Android Beiwe app, which will be available from studies.beiwe.org/download and the Google Play Store in the coming weeks. Please see below for additional details.

Foreground Service: the Android app now has a persistent notification that tells you it's collecting data. This should accomplish three things:

  • Re-enable data collection from the accelerometer and gyroscope when the app is in the background, for Android OS versions 9 and above.
  • Enable us to push updates to the Google Play Store. Google enacted a policy last month prohibiting apps that use the background location data permission unless Google specifically approves the app. This policy hasn't affected existing versions of the Beiwe app on Google Play, but it does block us from updating the app until we make the change. So the Foreground Service enables us to keep collecting location data without doing it from the background.
  • Enable ambient audio collection.

Ambient Audio Collection: this is a feature that you can toggle on or off for a study on the Device Settings Page. It's off by default for all current and new studies. Here's how it works:

  • The app records data to an unencrypted temporary file on the phone. Every 15 minutes, it writes the temp file to a permanent encrypted file, deletes the unencrypted temp file, and then starts over again. Only the encrypted files get uploaded. So there is temporarily unencrypted data on the phone, but it gets purged every 15 minutes. This is the same architecture Beiwe has been using for the Audio Surveys since 2014. Eli devised an architecture for the text files that lets the Beiwe app write them so they're encrypted line-by-line, but we haven't been able to come up with an easy parallel solution for the audio files, so we use this temp file paradigm instead.
  • It records all data as MP4 files, using the same parameters as the regular/compressed audio surveys.
  • These audio files are not batched into hour-long chunks the way most of the passive data files are. So when a researcher downloads them, they'll get a series of MP4 files that should each be about 15 minutes long. The filename includes the timestamp from the end of the recording, not the beginning.

Please check back for updates and if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out to kcarlson@hsph.harvard.edu.

- Beiwe team

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