Founded in 2009 ilumivu has a track record of providing highly flexible and powerful web and mobile software systems to behavioral health researchers and clinical care organizations.

The ilumivu System is a robust, patient­-centered, software platform designed to capture rich, multimodal behavioral data streams through user engagement. Our mobile and web applications integrate with third-party sensors to facilitate connected health research. The ilumivu System can be customized to suit the needs of your organization or a specific project.

Our mission is to empower both users and researchers with actionable information. Ilumivu was founded by two people from very different backgrounds who came together to create Software for Humanity. Katherine Houghton has a PhD in Psychology and a background in designing intervention programs for families of children with autism. Mark Tuomenoksa is an innovative software developer and system architect with a background in communications and health research.

In 2009 Katherine and Mark began talking about the data collection and reporting needs of families struggling with autism as Katherine was searching for ways to more effectively measure outcomes and track the process of change in families. Traditional psychology methods don’t allow for frequent enough measurement to provide an understanding of the dynamics of change – throughout the day, a month or a year of development.

Ilumivu’s first project was to create an online, parent-centered platform for families of children with autism to track daily changes in symptoms, behaviors and treatments. The platform allowed parents to share information with team members (teachers, nutritionists, therapists, etc.) and create dynamic charts and reports so they could see what treatments and therapies were correlated with which symptoms and behaviors.

Once the platform got out into the market, care organizations, schools and research groups started asking for their own systems. The ilumivu System grew into a single-source piece of software that can be quickly replicated and customized to support any project.

Through collaborating with clients ilumivu saw the need for people to be able to enter data from their mobile devices. In 2011 the native apps on Apple and Android were built to seamlessly integrate with the online platforms. Through this process mEMA – the mobile EMA apps – were born. Ilumivu continues to learn from our clients and develop the ilumivu system in response the their changing needs.

Hearing from our clients about their clinical or research work to support and better help those with challenging health or educational needs is what keeps us going.

Mark Tuomenoksa
Co-founder & CTO

Mark has 30 years of experience in software, communications research and development and has been granted eleven U.S. patents for software and systems development. He has worked in environments where cutting edge and new inventions were daily attributes of work. Through this experience he has developed a skill that has proven very helpful: the ability to translate technology to people who have no understanding of it, and create software that does what people want it to do even when they find it challenging to express what they want.

Mark Tuomenoksa is one of those rare individuals who are neurologically ambidextrous, equally comfortable with both left-brained and right-brained thinking. Schooled at the acclaimed Berklee College of Music, Mark is an accomplished musician who also happens to have spent seventeen years at Bell Laboratories where he was a Principal Investigator in the research division and a protégé of Nobel Laureate, Arno Penzias. At Bell Labs, Mark worked on everything from the development of the first 32-bit microprocessor to the commercialization of the UNIX operating system to the creation and operation of advanced interactive-voice services for companies like United Airlines, JC Penny and Charles Schwab. Mark left Bell Labs in the mid-nineties to join Boston-area start-up Shiva Corporation where he was both chief technology officer and vice president of marketing. At Shiva, Mark directed product management and marketing activities for remote access, virtual private networking and software product lines. A key player in developing and implementing corporate strategy, Mark was a central component of the company’s investor-relations team (speaking regularly with Wall Street industry analysts) and a catalyst in efforts that led to a successful merger with Intel Corporation.

After the merger, Mark left Intel to found OpenReach Inc, an Internet-security company that provided virtual private networking (VPN; see the Salon article about Mark and VPNs) services that transformed sundry Internet-connections into secure corporate-networks. The OpenReach service was the first credible replacement for expensive frame-relay networks and was named Network Magazine’s Product-of-the-Year in 2003. Since OpenReach, Mark has split his time among pro bono work for organizations in human-development and autism-treatment, new and interesting technology projects, and music. Mark has personally developed embedded algorithms for implantable medical devices, web platforms for autism research, and IOS and Android applications that integrate biometric, environmental and observational monitoring.

When Mark is not busy with Ilumivu he plays saxophone, flute, keyboards, bass and guitar and has performed and recorded with bands everywhere from Boston to New York to Las Vegas. Mark and his wife Iris live in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, a place they both describe as heaven.

katherine houghton,
co-founder&research director

Specializing in parent-implemented approaches to autism Katherine is bridging the gap between current published research in autism treatment and the training commonly available to parents.

Since 2000 Kat has worked directly with over 900 families. Working one-on-one with children in playrooms across the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East Katherine has had extensive hands-on experience of the entire spectrum of autism. Countless hours on the floor playing with cars and trains, lining up blocks, jumping, swinging, singing, blowing bubbles, flipping book pages, inspecting the details of the tiniest objects, and giving tickles and rides have left her with a deep appreciation for and delight in children with autism. This experience forms the backbone of all her work with parents. Through a gentle, self-reflective, person-centered approach Katherine helps parents find peace with the diagnosis of their children while providing practical training in evidence-based autism treatment. Whether working with one family in their home or with large groups she enjoys helping parents re-discover the joy in their children, their own creativity in play and their confidence to take charge of their child’s development.

This experience of closely supporting families struggling with autism inspired Katherine to look beyond behavioral interventions to discover what other tools could be helpful. Her work with wearable sensors and mobile tacking lead to the development of the ilumivu system with Mark.

In 2015 Katherine completed a PhD through Lancaster University (UK) in Psychology looking specifically at parent-implemented treatments for autism. Study one investigated the effects of a relationship-based approach on the spontaneous social and communication behaviors of children with autism (published in the Journal of Communication Disorders). Studies two and three investigated the effects of a low-cost parent-training program she created for families in underserved and culturally diverse communities. The training program was run in the Bronx NY and then translated into Spanish and run in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both trials helped parents learn how to interact with their children in a more optimal manner and facilitate change in core autism symptomology in the children.

In addition to running ilumivu and completing her PhD, Katherine currently provides parent training to families via online video review, phone consultation, in-home trainings and group workshops.

selected resume: Mark Tuomenoksa


Developed first distributed operating system to support remote execution across heterogeneous operating environments.
Developed portions of the Unix system kernel.
Developed a binary translation system that exactly preserves the semantics of an application when translated from one system to another while improving performance.


Recognized as subject matter expert in areas of multi-modal, interactive applications.
Filed patents with Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias.
Conceived, patented and developed graphical software tools that shortened product cycle times for custom voice applications from nine months to three weeks.
Developed and operated advanced interactive voice services for customers including United Airlines, Social Security Administration, American Express, Avis and Pizza Hut.


Oversaw all product line planning for the company’s operations support systems and software businesses.


Launched new network security product line generating more than $5M in revenue the first year.
Helped pitch data networking company to Intel resulting in $180M acquisition.


Founded Internet security startup.
Raised $54M in venture capital.
Delivered services to companies including ITW, Four Seasons Hotels, China Netcom, SAIC and Dow Jones.


Conceived and implemented sales force automation system that allowed newly merged billion-dollar telecom to fully integrate the sales of its diverse product lines.
Helped numerous non-profit organizations to employ advanced technologies that would otherwise have been either too sophisticated and/or too expensive to implement.


Developed algorithm software for implantable medical device that detects heart attacks six to eight hours before they happen.
Created database of more than 500,000 electro-cardiogram segments collected by implanted devices.


Developed general purpose online services platform for family services organizations that supports client communities, document sharing, online evaluations and surveys, progress tracking, support team scheduling and website management.

selected resume: Katherine Houghton


Teaching undergraduate psychology


Hundreds of hours working directly with over 400 children with autism at the center and in families’ homes


Teaching parents to implement a relationship-based intervention program for their children at home
An additional 400 families, working both with the children and the parents
Recruited staff for the treatment center
Created staff and parent training materials and programs
Trained new staff


Traveled to families homes and delivered large group workshops in the US, The Netherlands, Brazil and Oman


Evaluation of autism intervention programs
Design, implementation and evaluation of a low-cost parent-training program for use in low-resource and multicultural settings

Ecological Momentary Assessment

Ecological Momentary Assessment in Health Behavior Research

Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) or Experience Sampling has been used in psychology research since the 1940s emerging from an recognition of the accuracy limitations of recall. Our memories are systematically biased by emotional intensity, priming and psychological state drawing into question the validity of retrospective autobiographical reports. EMA offers a method for capturing time-varying subjective experiences close to when they happen reducing concerns of response biases and memory distortions.

More Accurate – Context-Aware

Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) aims to capture more accurate self-reports by asking people about their experiences closer to the time and the context they occur. The context could be the external environment, the participants’ physical or internal state. The mEMA app is context-aware. It taps into the sensors on the phone (e.g. GPS, light, sound, proximity, motion, humidity, barometric pressure) and to those from wearable devices (e.g. heart rate, HRV, GSR, altitude, UV exposure, etc.) so it can deliver a survey at just the right moment. Furthermore, mEMA allows users to capture photo, video and audio files to submit as a survey response allowing researchers to access contextual information of which the user may be unaware.  All these data are then sent to the platform for further analysis. Additionally the mEMA platform is integrated with third party databases that allow us to provide data of the local weather at the time any assessment was taken.

This method of data capture is much more accurate than the traditional method as it provides us with information about the context and does not rely on notoriously biased retrospective self-reports. EMA has been found to out perform pencil-and-paper methods of data collection.

Captures Dynamic Processes

o-SMARTPHONE-FREE-facebookEMA allows for more frequent sampling (often multiple times a day) so time-series analysis can be performed providing a deeper understand of the processes at work rather than static snapshots at distant time point. Research has found that health behaviors, emotional experience and strategies for dealing with stress fluctuate significantly throughout the day across different daily contexts. Some suggest that the larger portion of this variability can be accounted for by change in the situation not the person (Hoppmann & Gerstof, 2013). EMA allows us to delve deeper into intra-individual variability as a valid developmental process. Furthermore, EMA methods allow long-term capture of data providing insights into events that may happen less frequently and would be hard to replicate in the lab.

captures Interpersonal Dynamics

EMA can also be used to understand interpersonal processes. Our daily experience are often linked with that of those closest to us, this is not easily captured with traditional methods. EMA studies where each spouse, for instance, provides timestamped self-reports throughout the day can illuminate these more complex dynamics.

History of EMA

Early EMA studies used paper-based daily diaries and asked participants to record their own behavior usually once a day. With the advent of pagers researchers were able to design signal-driven sampling studies, “beeping” participants at random times throughout the day to signal them to record data at that moment. This method, popularized by Czikszentmihalyi and colleagues became known as the Experience Sampling Method and aimed to capture participants’ subjective experience in the moment. As the technology developed so too did the methodology.

With the introduction of handheld (palm-top) computers many digital daily diary studies were carried out in a diverse range of health behavior fields. Additionally, ambulatory physiological monitoring has been included in some EMA protocols to capture such biometrics as EDA, heart rate and movement.

Emerging Technology

phones usingIn 2015 64% of American adults owned a Smartphone, a powerful tool for collecting both self-report data and passive data from either in-phone, external or wearable sensors. Bluetooth and WiFi allow us to collect data from a variety of sources in the participant’s environment or from their physical body, combine it with their own perception of their experience and deliver the entire data package to researchers anywhere. This widely available technology has the ability to revolutionize the way psychologists, therapists, physicians and behavioral health researchers understand people.

The rapid development of wearable and in-home sensors is allowing integrated health monitoring solutions to be more easily created and just-in-time interventions made available. These technological developments allow capture of objective measures (e.g. activity, heart rate, etc.) alongside self-report data alleviating concerns about socially desirable responding.

Current EMA methods are being employed in a wide range of areas including: eating behaviors, drug and alcohol use, sexual behavior, emotion and wellbeing, medial and psychiatric disorders.

mEMA by ilumivu

The ilumivu’s EMA package represents the next generation in tools for EMA researchers by providing:

  • capture data directly from participants’ own phone (iOS or Android), no need for them to remember to carry a second device
  • data stored locally on phone until within cell or WiFi range then automatically pushed to secure central server for high data security
  • integration of biometric (electrodermal activity, heart rate or actigraphy) with self-report data
  • reducing software development costs by accessing the Survey Editor yourself, no programing experience required to add and edit your questionnaire to be displayed on the Smartphone apps. We understand that during the pilot phase there will be multiple iterations of your questionnaire. We don’t believe you should pay extra to refine your questions in response to user participation and feedback, that’s why we built the tools that enable you to edit your questions without input from ilumivu staff.
  • reduce cost of data transcription and transcription errors, all data automatically sent to central database to be viewed in real-time

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New to EMA?

Are you thinking about running an EMA study but are new to the methodology? There are a many resources out there. Our EMA Guide is designed to get you started. Download a free copy here.