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, lifelogging, sousveillance, and Humanistic Intelligence.  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 his or her 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.
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.
For those without formal training in statistics or programming, several websites such as http://lockerproject.org/ offer convenient tools for aggregating data from multiple sources, as well as visualizing, and analyzing that data.
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. It helps people feel motivated to keep moving because they can visually see their progress.
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.
Recently self-tracking has become rather popular. With different devices that help track you calories intake and loss, steps taken, sleep schedule and so on. Technology has made it easier than ever to keep track of these things. Most people track these things for health reasons. But others are just interested in knowing.
Many start-up companies occupy the market right now. 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 recently 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. The growing market and self-tracking devices should increase the range for large-scale data collection. This will allow users to analyze their own findings and combine them with those of other people.
Health monitoring has played a huge role in monitoring and maintaining wellness so people can prevent disease. Self-tracking is a major piece in health care because as health care costs continue to increase, more money is being spent on prevention strategies. Self-tracking and monitoring has surely been closely tied with health care, especially in the United States. Managing health care budges can save thousands each year. Companies and applications that can track and improve sleep, diet, physical activity, body weight, asthma, stress, mood, and vital signs are important to health care because they play apart in the countries motives to decrease health care costs but increase quality and accessibility. Exploring these tools might be justified in health care terms such as return on investment, treatment outcomes, symptoms, and patient compliance.
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
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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.
- 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
- Jawbone UP - steps taken, calories burned, eating habits, sleep quality and sleep cycle vibration alarm; behavioral nudges (water consumption, movement, sleep)
- Samsung Gear Fit - heart rate, pedometer, accelerometer; notifications from compatible phones
- Nike+ FuelBand - steps taken, calories burned. To be discontinued.
- Pebble - motion and sleep tracking
- 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
Diet & Weight
- Lume Personal Tracker - mood/energy
- 23andMe – genetics
- Tictrac – Quantified Self Platform
- 20signals – Proteomics / Metabolomics
- WorkMeter - metrics@work
- OmniContext Personal Analytics - Work/life time-tracking
- UBiome – personal human microbiome
- Health Sphere - Personal Health Records with Rewards
- Nike Training - Training Mobile App
- Zenobase – a service for aggregating and analyzing Quantified Self data
- Quitbit - Smoking
- BACtrack - alcohol intake and its effect on the body
- Quantified Self
- Quantified Self Boston
- Quantified Self Toronto
- Quantified Self India
- Fit, fit, hooray! – The Economist May 24, 2013
- Stephen Wolfram on Personal Analytics – By Antonio Regalado. MIT Technology Review May 8, 2013
- Seven simple UX principles for designing Quantified Self services
- Products for biohacking and the quantified self
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