Is there really an app to measure everything? A guide to the Big Data in us

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As smartphones become more sophisticated it is becoming possible to capture a whole new range of data about ourselves and day-to-day actions. Capturing this data is known as life-logging and is the foundation of the Quantified Self movement.

The number of apps and the range of data they can capture has been growing rapidly. So if you are interested in the Quantified Self movement or want to get started on our own life-logging journey, have a look at this collection of excellent pieces which mystify much of the jargon, review popular apps and also explain some of the wider healthcare benefits.

On a personal note, my first introduction to life-logging was Runkeeper in 2010. I have logged 600+ kilometers of my walks on it. The app has been through many, many iterations since then. But that would be my personal recommendation.

The Beginner’s Guide to Quantified Self

This article offers a introduction to Quantified Self. It begins by highlighting the ability of Quantified Self to transform healthcare – Today, we ask our doctors. Tomorrow, we will ask our data. And explains why self-tracking is important from a personal development as well as commercial point of view. The article also features several apps that can help you get started on your personal self-tracking journey – weight, mood, heart rate. sleep and physical activity.

Read the full piece here

The irresistible rise of the quantified self and life logging

With the proliferation of smart-phones it is becoming easier to measure different aspects of our life. This has resulted in the rise of Quantified Self movement which is based on concepts of self-tracking and life-logging. This article begins with a simple example illustrating how measuring the number of steps we take via an app on our smartphone can make a significant difference to the quality of our lives in the long term.

There are mechanical devices which can do the same job. The advantage of a smartphone app is that it can track a range of different data sets. For example, in addition to physical activity, we can also monitor social media activity, email usage and personal browsing. It is the range of datasets that make it possible to see new patterns and relationships. This makes it possible to define new kinds of incentives and developmental goals that can enhance both our physical and mental well-being.

The article concludes by identifying a number of caveats. The Quantified Self movement is still relatively new and one can be easily distracted by the range of apps that are emerging into the marketplace. Then there are also some serious privacy issues to consider. By sharing a lot of intensely personal data, companies of the future may effectively own your body. But on a more hopeful note, the article quotes Larry Smarr – ‘We’re almost at day zero in a whole new world of medicine.’

Read the full piece here

How wearable sensors and artificial intelligence could help some people live more normal lives

This articles charts the development of Brain Aid, developed by NASA scientist Rich Levinson, who was exploring the exploring links between the executive function of the brain and decision making processes of robotic systems. The result was wearable technology that can track actions and behaviours of patients with impaired executive function.

The technology stores this information in a cloud based dashboard. It then provides real-time coping strategies and prompts that are also delivered via wearable technology, such as the Pebble watch. This technology can improve quality of life and offer independence to people with cognitive challenges. It can also serve as a useful adjunct to caregivers.

Read the full piece here

The App-Driven Life: How To Stick To Your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

The article begins by stating that we pretty much tend to make the same resolutions every year, but only a very small percentage of us manage to achieve them by the end of the year. However, with the rise of the the Quantified Self movement and proliferation of apps in this context, it just might be a little bit easier to achieve our goals. The article goes on to review a range of apps that will help you exercise regularly, eat healthy, quit a bad habit and even learn something new. Ah well! If only it were that easy… If you are interested in the Quantified Self movement, I would recommend this article because of the exhaustive list of app and contexts in which to try them out.

Read the full piece here

As always, if you have come across any good writing on this subject, please do leave a link in the comments section below.

Abhay / @gopaldass

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On January 6, 2014
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