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The Quantified Self

Savannah, 23 July, 2013 2 Comments

quants

photo source: CNN MONEY

As wearable technologies become more prevalent in our everyday lives, I couldn’t help but take notice of all of the devices that are emerging in the health and fitness industry. Not being much of a tech person myself, my knowledge of tracking my motions are limited to knowing just how far I ran on the pre-planned route I mapped out.

I was always aware that there were heart rate monitors, but I never really went further than that. To me, the best piece of technology was my ipod, which tracked my distance and would chime in to tell me when I had completed another kilometre, all while churning out my playlist. It records my time, average speed, calories burned, and charts my progress on my Nike account. To me, that was pretty fantastic.

But, the more I looked into all the different pieces of wearable technology, the more fascinated I became. I even stumbled across a new term to describe our interest in tracking our daily movements and measurements: Quantified Self, or ‘life-logging’. For so long, and for many of us, our movements have been largely invisible. By that I mean that we haven’t been actively tracking our movements down to the single step. Thanks to my ipod, I now know I run about 7KM a day, but I don’t know much beyond that. There are a lot more wearable pieces on the market that are aiming to change the way we understand our activities levels and how it directly correlates to our health and overall well-being.

The most common might be the Nike Fuel Band, which tracks daily movements, distances, and calories burned. There are other wearable pieces of technology like FitBit, which promotes active lifestyles and monitoring. It also records your sleeping patterns which is equally if not more important than your waking activity. Additionally, the FitBit team has the Aria, a wireless scale that measures weight, BMI, and your body fat percentage. It’s concluding tagging, “when you’re in control, stepping on the scale feels good”, which I find to be an interesting statement. All of a sudden, our numbers are clearly visible. These wearable devices don’t let us forget that we’ve only taken 12,000 steps today, or had 5 hours of restless sleep. With this available data, we have more visibility and control over our fitness levels. Additionally, there are more numbers to support the results we see in our bodies.

With all of these available pieces that can so easily integrate with our everyday activities, I don’t see why we wouldn’t start incorporating them to get a better overall sense of self. If there is some gamification in these programs (incentives to hit your fitness goals, etc), then who knows how we could continue to self-improve and become more health conscious as a whole. With desk jobs being more normative and food quality being somewhat questionable at times, we could use a bit of a kickstart in our fitness and activity levels.

Do you think you will be adopting any of these devices to help monitor your activity levels? In what way could this harm or hinder our physical well being?

2 Responses to “The Quantified Self”

  1. Christian Cruz

    It is an exciting time to be in wearable technology. No longer the domain of sci-fi fiction, the gadgets we carry with us to monitor our movements are not only becoming more prevalent but beneficial to our well-being.

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