Are Digital Twins becoming our Personal (predictive) Advisors?

‘Our Digital Mirror of Who We Were, Who We Are and Who We Will Become’

Abstract: In this paper we look at the notion of a Digital Twin and what it could entail for an aging population. A Digital Twin refers to a digital replica of potential and actual physical assets (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various. Today’s evolution of smart devices, mobile application used in different domains, could be ways of nurturing a Digital Twin. Moreover, these smart device and mobile applications are often equipped with NUI’s (Natural User Interfaces), which make them more affordable for an aging population in terms of usability. In this paper we focus on the affordance and appropriation of these assistive digital technologies. We first do a literature review on related work on ‘Aging in Place’ in combination with ‘Digital Twin’ theory. Furthermore, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with boomers (1946-1964) 60+ and 70+, mixed gender and mixed education, but predominately higher educated boomers living in Belgium. In addition we conducted in-depth interviews with stakeholders active in a medical environment.

Presenting at
Download the paper here.

Meetup @ SXSW 2020 Gentrification & Inclusive Smart Human Cities

First ‘the book ‘Chasing The Flowers’ then the meet-up! Our meet-up ‘Gentrification & Inclusive Smart Human Cities’  is selected for the next edition of South by Southwest.  In collaboration with Creative Cities Berchem, Marit Ginevro.

Really thrilled about this! Great to get a platform like this! Check it out!


Chasing the Flowers


After so many years of thinking about it, I finally did it and wrote a book about San Francisco Gentrification process. It was good to collect my thoughts around it. It is a little side track on this website, but it also has to do with technology, so it is not to far off.

It is available on On May 1st available on

Technology continues to rapidly change our lives. In Chasing the Flowers, author Christel De Maeyer focuses on San Francisco, known for Silicon Valley and as a major innovation hub in technology. Technology has brought with it, gentrification: an ever-growing divide between the rich and poor and the disappearance of neighborhoods and a middle class. Citing flowers, an ancient symbol of love and hope, De Maeyer maintains that if technology is used with honesty, transparency and open communication, those “flowers” can continue to blossom. She portrays San Francisco’s quintessential personality with its constant heartbeat of diversity from immigrants who sailed to its shores in the 1800’s to the multiplicity and acceptance still characterizing the city today. San Francisco has nurtured ground-breaking movements from the Beat Generation with its radical poetry and content, the Hippie – make love not war movement, avant-garde magazines promoting a cyber world and smart drugs to today’s techie culture. The major technology industries that call San Francisco home and the techie culture these industries have brought with them pose a threat to the quintessential personality that has characterized San Francisco.  Can wisely utilized technology create well-planned, all-inclusive cities and counteract gentrification? Seek the answers in this book.

First reviews came in:

“Wat een ontzettend mooi boekje heb je gemaakt! Prachtige en treffende citaten gebruik je. En de persoonlijke notes, die hoor ik je ook vertellen. Ik heb het nog niet geheel uit maar weet nu al dat ik een volgend bezoek aan San Francisco heel anders zal beleven.”
Marijke van Benschop

“I enjoyed your book and thought it provided a terrific background on understanding the nature of the tech world and how it impacts San Francisco”.
Mary Stevens – AutoDesk Innovation Gallery San Francisco

Through her foreign eyes, Belgian techie Christel De Maeyer explores the essence of technology’s effect on the social fabric being played out today.  Her focus is rightly on the San Francisco Bay Area where that expanding gap between the haves and have nots, brought on largely by the tech boom, feels most acute.    
Given its history as a destination for dreamers, entrepreneurs, immigrants, visionaries, it’s no coincidence that San Francisco should be at the heart of this latest social upheaval.  One consequence of gentrification is increased homelessness, particularly in what may well be America’s most expensive major city.  
A few hours spent walking SF’s Tenderloin district affords a rather sobering look at that downside.
However, starting with the Gold Rush, San Francisco has survived any number of boom-bust cycles in its history and, as the author optimistically implies, is likely to survive this most recent dilemma as well. 

The book is in many ways personal, and her affection for this unique city she frequently visits is apparent.  That quality which attracted her and so many others to San Francisco over the years, ‘The Flower’, continues to bloom.
David Olivier San Francisco – Tour Guide –  US South West Tours California

Zelf nog nooit het kleurrijke San Francisco kunnen bezoeken, maar door de wervende beschrijving en origineel beeldmateriaal doorheen het boek, waande ik me wel even enkele kilometers verder.

Interessant om te lezen hoe de tech industrie de stad heeft beïnvloedt de voorbije jaren. Ook de terugblik op de jaren zeventig en tachtig zijn als twintiger heel fijn om te lezen.

Leest trouwens als een trein! Christel weet vanaf het begin je aandacht te triggeren en houdt dit vol tot het einde.
Sasha Herssens, Artevelde Hogeschool

Exploring Quantified Self Attitudes – proceedings at HealthINF 2018

In recent years there is a growing optimism that health interventions may become more effective through the use of self-tracking. Related efforts are hampered by the short-lived compliance to self-tracking schemes. This paper examines the attitudes and motivations of self-trackers that could guide the design of self-tracking applications. Based on a questionnaire survey and follow up interviews a set of three personas of self trackers is proposed, in addition, design requirements are proposed for improving adherence to selftracking technologies.

Full paper on demand.

Can Quantified Self Be a Facilitating Technology to Help Older Adults Stay Longer in Their Home?

Chapter on Quantified Self and older adults, I used my mom as a case study.

Readers of this chapter are taken through a journey by the author, who narrates a real-life story of a lady called Maria who is 75-year old and lives with her husband Albert, 81-years. The narration describes the lives of Maria and Albert, detailing their enjoyment of physical activity, and their children. Yet, one-day Maria is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and through the narration the author describes the experience that Maria and her family experience. Fast forwarding, to the year 2030, the author continues her narration describing how technology may fit into Maria’s life and that of her family; including the use of wearable devices and sensors integrated into the home where Maria lives, and enabling her family to track in real-time Maria’s sleep patterns and overall health. Additionally, this chapter discusses the fields of ageing in place, the quantified self (QS), and based on existing work in this field, the author explores a taxonomy for the QS, referencing and drawing on the work of Deborah Lupton. Further exploration and discussion in the areas of appropriation, affordance, rights, and risks of QS are provided with the author exploring how digital technologies fit within the healthcare system.

Further reading or download

Beyond the Promise of Personal Informatics

In recent years we see a growth in the use of  Personal Informatics (also known or referred to as Quantified Self, lifelogging). Where people track specific elements of their lives, they gather data and analyze data.  Most of these digital technologies have the aim to create awareness and behavior change. Positioning these digital technologies towards preventive healthcare and e-health in general. To deliver the promise of Personal Informatics in healthcare, these digital technologies will need to comply to different aspects as ‘The practices, meanings, discourses and technologies associated with self-tracking are inherently and inevitably the product of a broader social, cultural and political process’ (Lupton, 2014). In addition, the design and development of these devices need to trigger positive engagement with the user. Can we rethink data visualizations, create more meaning and context within the realm of these digital technologies? In this paper we would like to explore the combination or integration of socio-political aspects in a product design cycle of these digital technologies based on Value Sensitive Design.

Will present this on Living in a ‘Metric Culture’ Conference at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark, June 2017

Sleeping with Cognitive Capitalism – my talk at Leeds Beckett University on July 4th.

Today data is surrounding us almost everywhere. We as users of different applications and devices feed the data machine. We track ourselves with devices and mobile apps, we produce news feeds about ourselves on numerous platforms, we are data, we are content.

As we create detailed digital profiles of ourselves we should think about what is happening with all this data. Is this data exploited, sold to data brokers, advertisers or is it used a s research material? Or is it just passive around us?
A whole new economy is rising out of our detailed digital profiles. Not only in the advertisement space, where this data is used to target us even more within our supposed field of interest, but also in our health space and workspace this data can be used for the better or worse. Ethics and privacy are elements that we need to consider more clearly. By considering aspects of ethics and privacy, can we lay a responsibility with the companies who produce and develop these devices and apps? Do we need to think about a new label especially for devices and apps targeted at the domains of health and workplaces that regulates and stipulates the conditions for development and design. A set of criteria to what these devices and apps have to comply? If we want to create trust within this environment for a wider adoption, it might be time to create more transparency in data ownership and the design and development of a new generation of products and services.

Digital Health Digital Capital, you can register here.

The State of Now in Quantified Self – Survey

With this survey we want to get a more in depth view on Quantified Self, behaviour and trends. Click here to fill in the survey!

We want to see if you as a respondent tracked yourself in the past 12 months with devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Withings Pulse or Aura, Body Media and so forth. Maybe you use mobile apps such as Runkeeper, Moves, Human, Fitness Pal. Maybe you started in the past 12 months and you quit or maybe you are tracking yourself for years already. Looking forward to see your answers! This survey is part of PHD on designing for more engagement, wellbeing and happiness in Personal Informatics!  We will donate €1 to the ‘International Alzheimer LIga’ and ‘Doctors withouth borders’ for each respondent. Thanks for your collaboration!

Click here to fill in the survey!