The Quantified-Self Movement is nothing new, but now that Google and Samsung have expressed their intentions to move into the market with specifically designed gadgets – and with Apple a certainty to come up with something too – the idea that every man (and potentially his dog) will be wearing a small monitoring device before too long is a very real possibility.
But is there a danger of us being so overly obsessed with every minor detail of our daily routine that we forget about enjoyment, fulfillment, relaxation and relationships? Or is there a wearable device in the pipeline that can measure these things too?
The originations of the quantified-self movement can be traced back to 2007 when a small group of fitness enthusiasts began to monitor and assess data relating to how many hours they slept, how much they ate and even how many steps they took. They were on a quest for self-acknowledgement and understanding via self-tracking. The group comprised around 30 people who essentially journaled their daily routines and self-diagnosed the improvements they could make.
Now the idea of manually diarising every step is a thing of the past as technology has become involved. A simple looking wristband can monitor the users every move and an awful lot more. From blood pressure to calorie intake, sleep quality to posture, these wearable devices are cheap, easy to use and extremely beneficial to those looking to ensure they are living at an optimum level in terms of the exercise they do, the food they eat, and their general life-balance.
Setting goals is something that most of us do at some point in time. Actually achieving them sees a large percentage of us fall by the wayside. Perhaps the reason for this is no clearly defined route to success, perhaps it is the fact that we can compile data relating to our journey but have no real idea of how to collate it to make it of use.
With a tracking device, the user will also be able to get the statistics compiled, analysed and sent to them with some advice on how best to proceed along their path. These tailor made feedback reports are the exact reason why so many people are looking at the quantified-self movement as being the future of self-improvement. As well as the ways in which improvements can be made, the user also receives encouraging congratulations if things are going well, a feature that is sure to inspire performance.
The creation of smartphone apps which can use GPS to monitor your morning run have been around for many years, also informing the user about the amount of calories burnt and comparing times with those run previously, but what lies around the corner promises to take things an awful lot further.
Apple to take a bite
When Google and Apple express an interest in an idea, it usually means that the world should also start to take notice. Rumours have been rife within the tech world for some time that Apple are deep into the production and trialing stages of the iWatch or wrist based iPhone, while leaked photos of the iPhone 6 show a ‘healthbook’ app which certainly seems to be the clearest intention yet of Apple’s intentions to move into the market.
Bearing in mind that Apple historically sits back while everybody else has a crack at a new idea – before unveiling their own products to general euphoria – we are likely to see any new device relating to the quantified-self movement held back until the market develops just enough.
The one question mark is over the use of the data gathered. While it’s great for some aspects of fitness and self-discovery, a device which tracks your daily movements and feeds the information back to – who knows where – will be greeted with suspicion by some. There is also a very real possibility that some users may be so fully consumed by the self-quantified movement, that human interaction takes another damaging blow…. Only time will tell.