Quantified Self: 8 Devices and Services to Check Out
The quantified self movement - the collection of personal data through various tools and technologies in order to quantify various aspects of their lives - has been growing as new technologies and services have made data collection and interpretation easier and more meaningful.
And the ways to apply quantified self data are about as varied as the motivations to collect it.
Disease, Health, & Wellness
Improving your health and wellness is one of the most popular quantified self motivations.
Many health-related recommendations are based on large, population-based averages.
The ability to track your lifestyle behaviors, along with your body’s physiological response, can provide the data needed to find effective interventions or optimize better choices.
For example, you may discover your insulin rises much more to a slice of bread than your best friend, even though neither of you are diabetic. This may help you adjust your diet accordingly, even though you didn’t see any visible signs of distress.
Beyond wellness, disease management and treatments are highly personalized.
The medical community has known this for centuries.
For example, a new drug was recently FDA approved for preventing migraines, but it only works in 40% of the population.
Physicians routinely prescribe certain drugs to some people, only to find they may produce horrible side effects or little improvement later.
These same “experimental” approaches used in medicine are similar to the quantified self movement.
Only, now, more devices and technologies are emerging that enable this ability to quantify and test health measures directly by the individual.
Quantified Self Devices & Technologies
Here is a list of our favorite quantified self devices (in no particular order).
We continue to discover that our gut microbiome is of a significant importance to our health and wellbeing. uBiome helps you track it.
"Your microbes help to keep you healthy. Some enable your gut to digest fiber and manufacture vitamins. Others are less helpful, and some are actually harmful. uBiome uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced statistical techniques, as well as our patented precision sequencing™ process to analyze the microbes in your sample. Test once, or track your microbiome over time – the choice is yours.
2. Oura Ring
Sleep is often reported in the same breathe as diet and exercise when it comes to maintaining good health. The Oura Ring has a sleek design that won’t get in your way at night.
Using accelerometers, LED pulse sensors, and temperature sensors, the compact design helps you keep track of your sleep quality.
One of the earliest players in the direct-to-consumer DNA testing market, 23andMe has broken into the sphere of FDA-approved tests.
More than just ancestry tracking, DNA testing is providing more insights into how your body may response to disease risks and lifestyle choices. In terms of a quantified self, decoding your DNA is about as “self” as it gets.
Fitbit may have started out with nothing but a wooden box and some wires, they largely started a category of mainstream activity trackers.
Though there are many options to choose from for step counting and calorie-burn tracking, their long history in the game means their data is some of the most accurate out there. Plus, they’re pretty good at design.
5. Apple Watch
Speaking of good data from years of testing, Apple’s latest watch has been FDA approved for its heart rate monitoring capabilities.
With activity tracking capabilities too, this one competes with the Fitbit line of activity trackers. But for heart rate monitoring, the FDA approval speaks volumes.
An interesting new product designed to track your respiratory quotient, Lumen analyzes your breath with a small device and app.
The respiratory quotient is a measurement of the amount of oxygen you take in, compared to the amount of carbon dioxide you exhale. This provides a measure of your energy substrate (i.e. are you burning more calories from fat or carbs).
7. Naked Labs
Scales are old school. When it comes to measuring body composition, 3D scanners like Naked Labs are taking it to the next level.
These map your body shape and provide estimates not only for things like BMI, but also for fat vs. lean mass composition.
Whether you’re losing weight, or getting in shape, these metrics might be high your priority list and now within reach.
Intake Health has the newest technology in the world of diet and nutrition-tracking. Using a non-invasive urinalysis platform, we can instantly measure metabolites in your urine that correlate to what you’ve recently been eating.
There are tons of food journal apps that log meals and store photos. But for those of you tired of all the data entry, this simple and accurate device might be for you.
The Future of the Quantified Self for Health and Wellness
Other interesting technology is always coming out of research labs, like Stanford’s cortisol-measuring patch for stress management, and a slew of smart-clothing options for tracking various aspects of your workout.
As technologies shrink in size and increase in sophistication, data is quickly entering nearly all aspects of our lives. The Internet of Things (IoT) will increasingly permeate our lives and the items we use. And these have the potential to personalize and optimize our health and happiness based on the unique data and feedback it could provide.
The quantified self movement was, and still is, driven largely by early adopters who see the potential of personal wellness tracking.
Where self data collection might seem odd to some, they see the potential before anyone else. Even though, in the end, we’ll all likely be using this data collected ubiquitously, every day.