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What is HABITUS?

Many people know habitus because of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who turned the concept into a cornerstone of his sociology. Bourdieu described that habitus refers to the way that individuals perceive the world around them and react to it, typically without thinking about their reaction. They react based on their previous experiences and preferences, and based on what they perceive as the socially appropriate behavior in a certain social and spatial context.

HABITUS - Human Activity Behavior Identification Tool and data Unification System is much like Bourdieu´s habitus a tool for analyzing how people behave in different contexts.

HABITUS is an online service for processing physical activity behaviour data collected with wearable devices. Its main function is to merge and process time-stamped data from accelerometer and global positioning system (GPS) devices and providing output files dividing physical activity levels into different contexts or domains.

The importance of dividing physical activity into domains was recognised many years ago. However, for device-based measures, including contextual information is rare, and the expert group that developed the 2020 WHO guidelines identified a lack of information on domains of physical activity as one of the major evidence-gaps that needs to be addressed in future studies.

Combining device-based physical activity measures with contextual information is not so straightforward in practice. One of the reasons is that the use of GPS devices to provide contextual information is not yet widespread, and the use of two devices generates a much

larger volume of data and combining and processing this data is more complex.

What does HABITUS do?

HABITUS merges and processes time-stamped data from accelerometer and global positioning system (GPS) devices and provides output files dividing physical activity levels into different contexts or domains. In short, it makes processing accelerometer and GPS data easier.

HABITUS builds on existing software tools

We have not tried to reinvent the wheel creating HABITUS, but instead tried to save time and build on what other researchers have already created. HABITUS builds on the following existing software tools: PALMSpy, GGIR, Activity Counts and PALMSplus.

The core functionality for merging and processing accelerometer and GPS data used in HABITUS has its background in PALMS (Personal Activity Location Measurement System) that became available back in 2008. PALMS was developed by the Center for Wireless and population Health System at the University of California, San Diego and has been serving many GPS researchers from around the world until 2018. All PALMS experiences and algorithms were carried over to HABITUS, securing backwards compatibility, but also new functionality was added e.g., in the form of raw accelerometer data processing using the GGIR accelerometer data processing package.

HABITUS consists of three separate elements

1. Secure data storage on UCloud, a cloud system for research data hosted by the University of Southern Denmark. Users upload their data to a personal virtual hard disk which is fully compliant with all EU data protection regulations (GDPR) for sensitive personal data.

2. User interface All data processing choices are made in user interface created using Shiny (RStudio).

3. Data processing happens on a High Performance Computer (HPC) where the user can select the number of processing cores and memory needed.


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Activity Counts

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Institut for Idræt og Biomekanik Syddansk Universitet

  • Campusvej 55
  • Odense M - DK-5230
  • Phone: +45 6550 3448

Last Updated 28.09.2023