The Quantified Self is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical). Such self-monitoring and self-sensing, which combines wearable sensors (EEG, ECG, video, etc.) and wearable computing, is also known as lifelogging. Other names for using self-tracking data to improve daily functioning are "self-tracking", "auto-analytics", "body hacking", "self-quantifying", "self-surveillance", and "Personal Informatics". In short, quantified self is self-knowledge through self-tracking with technology. Quantified self-advancement have allowed individuals to quantify biometrics that they never knew existed, as well as make data collection cheaper and more convenient. One can track insulin and cortisol levels, sequence DNA, and see what microbial cells inhabit one's body.
According to Riphagen et al., the history of the quantimetric self-tracking using wearable computers began in the 1970s:
"The history of self-tracking using wearable sensors in combination with wearable computing and wireless communication already exists for many years, and also appeared, in the form of sousveillance back in the 1970s [13, 12]"
Quantimetric self-sensing was proposed for the use of wearable computers to automatically sense and measure exercise and dietary intake in 2002:
"Sensors that measure biological signals, ... a personal data recorder that records ... Lifelong videocapture together with blood-sugar levels, ... correlate blood-sugar levels with activities such as eating, by capturing a food record of intake."
The term "quantified self" appears to have been proposed in San Francisco, CA, by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 as "a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking." In 2010, Wolf spoke about the movement at TED, and in May 2011, the first international conference was held in Mountain View, California. There are conferences in America and Europe. Gary Wolf said “Almost everything we do generates data.” Wolf suggests that companies target advertising or recommend products use data from phones, tablets, computers, other technology, and credit cards. However, using the data they make can give people new ways to deal with medical problems, help sleep patterns, and improve diet.
Today the global community has over a hundred groups in 34 countries around the world. With the largest groups in San Francisco, New York, London, and Boston having over 1500 members each.
Like any empirical study, the primary method is the collection and analysis of data. In many cases, data are collected automatically using wearable sensors -not limited to, but often worn on the wrist. In other cases, data may be logged manually.
The data are typically analyzed using traditional techniques such as linear regression to establish correlations among the variables under investigation. As in every attempt to understand potentially high-dimensional data, visualization techniques can suggest hypotheses that may be tested more rigorously using formal methods. One simple example of a visualization method is to view the change in some variable – say weight in pounds – over time.
Even though the idea is not new, the technology is. Many people would track what they would eat or how much physical activity they got within a week. Technology has made it easier and simpler to gather and analyze personal data. Since these technologies have become smaller and cheaper to be put in smart phones or tablets, it is easier to take the quantitative methods used in science and business and apply them to the personal sphere.
Applications of Quantified Self
A major application of quantified self has been in health and wellness improvement. Many devices and services help with tracking physical activity, caloric intake, sleep quality, posture, and other factors involved in personal well-being. Corporate wellness programs, for example, will often encourage some form of tracking. Genetic testing and other services have also become popular.
Quantified self is also being used to improve personal or professional productivity, with tools and services being used to help people keep track of what they do during the workday, where they spend their time, and who they interact with.
One other application has been in the field of education, with wearable devices being used in schools so that students can learn more about their own activities and related math and science.
Many start-up companies occupy the market right now[when?]. Most of them help track data for some type of health pattern, be it sleep or asthma. However, there are bigger companies such as Nike, Jawbone, and FitBit that occupy some of the space in the market.
A recent movement in quantified self is gamification. There are a wide variety of self-tracking technologies that allow everyday activities to be turned into games by awarding points or monetary value to encourage people to compete with their friends. People can pledge a certain amount of real or fake money, or receive awards and trophies.
Many of these self-tracking applications or technologies are compatible with each other and other websites so people can share information with one another. Each technology may integrate with other apps or websites to show a bigger picture of health patterns, goals, and journaling. One may figure out that migraines were more likely to have painful side effects when using a particular migraine drug.
Quantified Baby is a branch of the Quantified Self movement that is concerned with collecting extensive data on a baby's daily activities, and using this data to make inferences about behaviour and health. A number of software and hardware products exist to either assist data collection by the parent or collect data automatically for later analysis. Reactions to "Quantified Baby" are mixed.
Parents are often told by health professionals to record daily activities about their babies in the first few months, such as feeding times, sleeping times and nappy changes. This is useful for both the parent (used to maintain a schedule and ensure they remain organised) and for the health professional (to make sure the baby is on target and occasionally to assist in diagnosis). For quantified self, knowledge is power, and knowledge about oneself easily translates as a tool for self-improvement. The aim for many is to use this tracking to ultimately become better parents. Some parents use sleep trackers because they worry about sudden infant death syndrome.
A number of apps exist that have been made for parents wanting to track their baby's daily activities. The most frequently tracked metrics are feeding, sleeping and diaper changes. Mood, activity, medical appointments and milestones are also sometimes covered. Other apps are specifically made for breastfeeding mothers, or those who are pumping their milk to build up a supply for their baby.
Devices and services
Notable self-quantification tools are listed below. Numerous other hardware devices and software are available, as a result of advances and cost reductions in sensor technology, mobile connectivity, and battery life.
- Apple Watch
- oDrive Multi-Tracking software
- BodyMedia FIT - skin temperature, galvanic skin response; acquired by Jawbone in April 2013
- Fitbit Tracker - steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep quality, heart rate
- Jawbone UP - steps taken, calories burned, eating habits, sleep quality and sleep cycle vibration alarm; behavioral nudges (water consumption, movement, sleep)
- Nike+ FuelBand - steps taken, calories burned. To be discontinued.
- Razer Nabu - sleep, steps you've walked, distance travelled, calories burnt, and active start and stop time
- Pebble - motion and sleep tracking.
- QardioCore - ECG, activity, body temperature monitoring
- Samsung Gear Fit - heart rate, pedometer, accelerometer; notifications from compatible phones
- Technogym - display a "performance index" in conjunction with a heart rate monitor
- Weight Watchers ActiveLink - accelerometer-based activity tracking with estimation of calorie consumption
- Zephyr BioHarness - complex physiological monitoring
- Simband - open source physiological monitoring
- Misfit Wearables - activity and sleep monitoring (tracking step count, calories burned, distance traveled, and number of hours of light and deep sleep)
- Pillow - Smart Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
- Sleep as Android
- Withings Aura
- Clue - period and fertility tracking
- Glow - fertility tracking
- Kindara - period and fertility tracking
Diet & Weight
- Fitbit Aria scale
- HealthWatch 360
- Withings Wi-Fi body scale
- QardioBase Wi-Fi body scale
- Cooey-Smart Scale
- SMALT - The Smarter Way To Salt
- Lume Personal Tracker - mood/energy
- WellBee daily mood game - mood/relationship/family wellbeing
- Exist - Service for gaining insights and making correlations between the data Quantified Self trackers. Relies on a growing number of tracking app integrations.
- Instant - Automatic Quantified Self tracking app; Track device usage, places, fitness & travel
- 23andMe – genetics
- Mendus – health and treatment tracking for patients
- Tictrac – A Digital Health platform
- BACtrack - alcohol intake and its effect on the body
- dacadoo Health Score and platform for behavioral change
- Health Sphere - Personal Health Records with Rewards
- Nike Training - Training Mobile App
- Neveli – Analyzes data from smart devices and helps people understand, monitor and manage their health
- OmniContext Personal Analytics - Work/life time-tracking
- QardioArm Smart Blood Pressure Monitor
- Quitbit - Smoking
- Remedy Social - Health Score based on personal health data & diagnostic test results
- uBiome – personal human microbiome
- WorkMeter - metrics@work
- Zenobase – a service for aggregating and analyzing Quantified Self data
- BITalino - DiY Hardware for Physiological Data Acquisition
- Cooey - Smart blood pressure monitor
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