Over the past few years, there has been an emerging movement aptly called “Quantified Self” whereby people are bringing together the technology to track, record, and monitor any quantifiable actions in their regular life, such as physical performance, vitals, food consumptions, etc.
What if the clothes you are wearing can monitor your heart rate, or tell you when it is time to slow down the pace? What if the watch you are wearing is capable of telling you exactly how much calories you’ve burned or need to burn during your exercise session, including the fats and calories burned during sleep? If you are aware of games like Deuce Ex where augmentations or bionic attachments are part of daily existence of the population, and that their lives and performance are enriched through electronics and information analysis-we are one step closer to that reality.
Existing Smart Personal Devices in the Marketplace
According to ABI research, in 2012 there have been 30 million of such products that were released into the marketplace, a 37% growth from the previous year, and this market is expected to grow at a fast pace of 41% annually, expecting to reach 169.5 million devices to be shipped out into the hands of the consumers in 2017.
At the recent consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, major shakers and movers in the industry such as Nike, Performtek, Fitbit and LG have introduced sophisticated smart technology devices equipped with sensors, trackers and cameras.
While the majority of these devices are geared for the consumer oriented fitness and sports markets, other products are being released for other healthcare service applications and home monitoring as well.
Data collected from these smart devices such as watches, phones, shoes, even appliances such as televisions, refrigerators, washers even cars can process, store data, analyze and disseminate these information to a centralized information storage system which will provide better access, statistical computations and analysis.
Once the data has been thoroughly crunched and tracked, the consumers or users of these smart high-tech devices can simply go online, look at charts and graphs and other pertinent statistical information to track their specific performance and activities whatever sport or application it may be, whether it is basketball, running, eating or even sleeping-our lives are forever be improved by sophisticated data crunching to maximize our efforts and minimize wasted actions.
Life Tracking – The Beginning of the Merging of Man to Machine
“Life tracking” or “Self tracking” is the new catch phrase to the merging of our natural biological bodies and routines with these high-tech data devices to tweak, monitor, and optimize virtually everything we do in our normal daily lives. Through automated analysis and individualized feedback, end-users have the power to be healthier, fitter even save money by managing their bodies even their homes a lot better (these sensors can control air-conditioning, lights, heating automatically based on the feedback of these wearable sensors).
A recent research has even reported that 1 in 5 smartphone users have downloaded some form of application to record and manage their health in some shape or form. According to the report, nearly 50% of the surveyed health tracker users said these devices have proactively changed their approach on the actual caring of their health.
Why Not Everyone is Excited
With all of the benefits, not everyone is so excited when the idea of private information being stored electronically for public consumption. Critics say that the global population may not be mature yet to embrace this merging of life tracking into our normal lives because of the possible privacy concerns and potential misuse of personal data. This information can be used by companies to make custom offers depending on the data provided by these sensors.
For example a person wanting to lose weight might be offered XYZ supplement which may sound logical on paper but in actual usage may cause other disadvantages that may not have it electronically because of the limited information these devices can collect. And because the marketing message is really pinpointed, the consumers would want to get them or have strong motivation to buy them even though what they need is just more effort in exercising as an example.