Activity Trackers – Exploring the Quantified Self

Punchkick Interactive
  • Punchkick Interactive
  • August 27, 2013
Activity Trackers – Exploring the Quantified Self

Quantifying our day to day movements has taken off at rocket-speed. Products like Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP promise better health through the simple notion of tracking our activity, and more are on the way.

The premise of a better you is one that strikes a chord deep inside us. Living a healthy life is something many of us pursue, but without some solid feedback it’s hard to stay motivated. That’s where activity tracking wearables and smart products shine. You took 10,000 steps today, congrats! A pat on the back from your smartphone might not seem like the greatest motivator, but seeing that you’ve achieved your daily goal makes for a very strong message. You did it, champ. The flip side also stands true, it’s not the best feeling being notified that you’ve been idle for hours, and it can be a great motivator to get up, move around, and get that foot-count up.

Beyond the standard pedometer, health-conscious electronics are giving us more insights into ourselves by offering data around our sleep, heart rate, weight, and caloric intake, though the latter often relies on self-input (we’re waiting patiently for that nut to be cracked). Fitbit, for example, has a smart scale that syncs automatically with your Fitbit account, adding an extra dimension to what the app can portray.

As this type of technology advances, we’ll see a wider range of metrics which we can track. Scientists at EPFL have developed an implant which collects data about a users’ blood with the hopes of catching a heart attack before it even happens. Projects like these, combined with both our inherent desire to know more about ourselves as well as our ingenuity, will lead the way to a myriad of applications based around the quantified self.

There’s no doubt that the self-tracking movement is gaining momentum. Apps that let us reflect and study ourselves with a quantitative eye feed our curiosity and help drive motivation. As self-trackers become smaller and more economical, their ubiquity will spread and we will hopefully become better as a result.


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