joi, 23 iunie 2011
Two New Tools for Self-Tracking
"A super-watch and sensors that track how often you brush your teeth and walk the dog among other things."
As Nadeem Kassam sauntered down the hall of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, over Memorial Day weekend, all attention was on his wrist. The museum was host to the first annual Quantified Self conference, a gathering of people who use different tools to record a variety of personal metrics with the goal of improving their health, happiness, and productivity.
Kassam was sporting the hottest new fitness monitoring gadget: a device that looks and acts like a watch, but which also measures heart rate and other physiological factors. The monitor, made by self-tracking startup called Basis (which Kassam cofounded), is unique in the number of metrics it tracks; it detects heart rate from the wrist using near infrared spectroscopy, along with both skin and ambient temperature, and galvanic skin response, a measure of sweat on the skin that is linked to both physical activity and stress or excitement. Only a few people have been selected as beta testers for the device, which is slated to come out "soon."
"We analyze five different data streams and figure out what people are doing in the context of life," says Julie Wilner, product director at Basis. "High heart rate and temperature probably means someone is exercising." Low activity, as recorded by the accelerometer, suggests the wearer is sleeping. The device also tracks quality of sleep based on movement during this phase. It combines various measures to calculate the number of calories burned during the course of a day. Accompanying software helps users track and visualize how they are progressing over time. "Are they becoming more active?" says Wilner. "Do they get better or worse sleep on certain day of the week?"
The Basis watch is one of a growing number of new tools that seeks to passively collect data on the wearer's health and behavior with the aim of helping them to change it for the better. These devices are part of the new movement in self-tracking, enabled by a new generation of wireless devices and smart phone apps to track exercise, nutrition, sleep, mood, and other variables. "In the past, only a motivated few would keep a diary for more than a few weeks," says Wilner. "We want to bring these tools to people who wouldn't do this on their own, people who make New Year's resolutions but don't keep them."