The quantified-self is a movement that has been around since the 1970s but only recently it took off due to the internet of things and the availability of monitoring devices that connect to smartphones. Today’s smartphones carry a vast amount of all sorts of sensors that can track almost anything. The quantified-self is Big Data for consumers and consumers are collecting massive amounts of data. What could this mean for your organisation?
The quantified is especially aimed at improving health and as such there are many devices that help consumers track their moods, sleeping patterns, activity levels, heart and stress levels, what they eat and drink or how often they walk the dog. The quantified-self movement focuses especially on those people who are fine with it that all of their data is collected and, quite often, exposed to the public.
Growing amount of quantified-self startups
As it is with the growing number of Big Data startups, the quantified-self movement is being taken seriously by startups from around the world, but especially Silicon Valley, and new devices or tracking-software are being launched almost on a daily basis. There are examples of how such devices are being used by consumers to improve their lifestyle, increase and improve their sleeping habits and become sharper, more relaxed and switched on. What could this mean if a lot of your employees started tracking their lifestyles?
The products and apps that are around are growing steadily. There are apps that require an additional device, but there are also apps appearing that do not even require a separate product. The blog Quantified Self has gathered all existing apps. Some of the more well known are:
- Withings is a company that created a social scale, a blood pressure monitor, a baby monitor and an activity tracker;
- Fitbit also developed a scale and trackers to motivate consumer to stay active and live a better life;
- Jawbone created a wristband that among others tracks and monitors how you sleep as well as quite a few other types of data;
- Foodzy asks you to share on a social platform what you are eating to better understand your eating habits;
- The HAPIFork tracks how long it took to eat your meal, the intervals between “fork servings” and how fast you eat;
- Moves is an app that does not require a device to monitor how many steps you make, how much you have cycled or run and it is free to use.
Although the business model of these apps, such as Moves, is difficult to find, they have no problems finding funding. The Moves app already secured € 1.2 million in venture capital and also other startups have secured millions in funding as can be written on the Quantified Self section on Venturebeat.com.
The scientific model
The quantified-self movement, however, does also have substantial impact on the scientific research model, making it easier to gather massive amounts of data to validate research. PatientsLikeMe is a data-driven social networking health site that enables users to share condition, treatment, and symptom information in order to monitor their health over time and learn from real-world outcomes. Already tens of thousands consumers are sharing information and it is used to find insights that would previously take tremendous amounts of time.
Another company is 23andme, were consumers can get their genomes sequenced and start exploring their DNA. They can find out and increased or decreased risks towards certain diseases. Consumers can, if they want, share their DNA information to improve research towards diseases.
The internet of things
Also other products are becoming part of the internet of things and help consumers better understand their lives. The Delphi Connected Car is such a device that gathers data of sensors in cars, which is normally sent straight to the factory, for private use. This product is essentially a dongle that can be plugged into the cars diagnostics ports (all care built after 1996 have such a port). It monitors and tracks your trip times, where you drive, how fast you drove, vehicle status, engine fault codes or it can remember where you left your car. All information is shown in app for iOS or Android.
The quantified-self and your organisation
More and more organisations are including sensors in their products as a service for their customers, but also to understand how the consumer uses the product. This is valuable information that allows organisations to improve their products faster, without extensive and expensive market research. As such it will become easier to track our lives as in the future almost any product will contain some sort of sensor and collect data. The only question is whether you want to start using all that data to better understand and improve your life. Organisations could push this movement and stimulate employees to start monitoring their lives, as a more aware employee is healthier and more productive.
The quantified-self movement has just started and we will see a plethora of connected devices in the (near) future to track, monitor and analyse everything with do in our lives. Are you ready to understand every aspect of your life?