Quantified Self

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Early prototype of "Quantimetric Self-Sensing" apparatus, 1996 (body sensing apparatus with Digital Eye Glass for realtime display of ECG, EEG, EVG, and other body sensing apparatus output[1]).
The above-pictured "Quantimetric Self-Sensing" apparatus when removed from the body harness: Left-to-right: Respiration Sensor; ECG; EEG; Skin Conductivity; EVG (ElectroVisuoGram=Quantimetric EyeTap).[2]

The Quantified Self[3] 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[4] are “self-tracking”, "auto-analytics", “body hacking”, “self-quantifying”, self-surveillance, lifelogging, sousveillance, and Humanistic Intelligence.[5][6] [7] 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]"[8]

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."[9]

(See also,.[10])

The term "quantified self" appears to have been proposed in San Francisco, CA, by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf[11] and Kevin Kelly[12] in 2007[13] 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,[14] and in May 2011, the first international conference was held in Mountain View, California.[15] 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.[16] With the largest groups in San Francisco, New York, London, and Boston having over 1000 members each.


Like any empirical study, the primary method is the collection and analysis of data.[17] In many cases, data are collected automatically using wearable sensors -not limited to, but often worn on the wrist.[18] 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[edit]

A major application of quantified self has been in health and wellness improvement.[19][20] 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,[21] 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[citation needed].

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.[22]

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[citation needed].

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 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. 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[edit]

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.[23][24]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

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.

Quantified baby, as in quantified self, is associated with a combination of wearable sensors and wearable computing. The synergy of these is related to the concept of the internet of things.[24]

Devices and services[edit]

Notable self-quantification tools are listed below. Numerous other hardware devices and software are available,[28] as a result of advances and cost reductions in sensor technology, mobile connectivity, and battery life.

Activity monitors[edit]

Main article: Activity tracker
  • Apple Watch
  • 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)
  • 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 - EKG, 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)


Sleep-specific monitors[edit]

Women's health[edit]

  • Clue - period and fertility tracking
  • Glow - fertility tracking

Diet & Weight[edit]



See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Humanistic Computing: "WearComp" as a new framework and application for Intelligent Signal Processing". Proc. IEEE (IEEE) 86 (11). 1998. 
  2. ^ Mann, Steve (1997). "Smart clothing: The wearable computer and wearcam". Personal Technologies 1 (1): 21–27. doi:10.1007/bf01317885. 
  3. ^ Gary, Wolf. "QS & The Macroscope". Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Dorminey, Bruce (2012-05-31). "Tic-Toc-Trac: New Watch Gadget Measures Time Perception For The Self-Quantifying". Forbes. 
  5. ^ "Adventures in Self-Surveillance, aka The Quantified Self, aka Extreme Navel-Gazing". Forbes. April 7, 2011. 
  6. ^ Exploring Humanistic Intelligence Through Physiologically Mediated Reality. ISMAR. IEEE. 2002. 
  7. ^ "Counting every moment". The Economist. Mar 3, 2012. 
  9. ^ US Patent application 20020198685
  10. ^ Photographic images from video using quantimetric processing. ACM Multimedia. Association for Computing Machinery. 2002. 
  11. ^ Singer, Emily. "The Measured Life". MIT. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  12. ^ Wolf, Gary. "Quantified Self". Gary Wolf. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  13. ^ "Quantified Self Blog, oldest entries". Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  14. ^ Wolf, Gary. "The quantified self". TED (conference). Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  15. ^ "Invasion of the body hackers". Financial Times. 2011-06-10. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. 
  16. ^ http://quantified-self.meetup.com/
  17. ^ Hesse, Monica (September 9, 2008). "Bytes of Life". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  18. ^ Stinson, Ben. "How wearables became the key tech trend of 2014". TechRadar. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  19. ^ The Wall Street Journal http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2013/08/13/the-rise-of-the-quantified-self-in-health-care/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ http://www.edelman.com/post/the-quantified-self-and-corporate-wellness/
  21. ^ http://blogs.cisco.com/zzfeatured/when-ioe-gets-personal-the-quantified-self-movement/
  22. ^ http://works.bepress.com/victor_lee/15/
  23. ^ Heussner, Ki Mae (11 July 2013). "The quantified baby: Do parents really need infant-ready sensor tech?". GigaOM. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Higginbotham, Stacy (18 April 2013). "Podcast: How the internet of things may make parents less worried but more neurotic". GigaOM. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  25. ^ http://pregnant.thebump.com/new-mom-new-dad/newborn-basics/articles/new-baby-doctor-visit-checklist.aspx?MsdVisit=1
  26. ^ http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_wolf_the_quantified_self.html
  27. ^ Brooks, Ross (9 September 2013). "Baby Jumpsuit Reports Nighttime Activity Levels To Anxious Parents Baby Jumpsuit Reports Nighttime Activity Levels To Anxious Parents". PSFK. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Guide to Self-Tracking Tools". Quantified Self. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  29. ^ Mickaël Le Gal (April 4, 2014). "Quantified-Self: The Power of Day One & Launch Center Pro". 
  30. ^ "Lifelogging / Quantified Self". Lifestream Blog. 
  31. ^ Dani Fankhauser (September 24, 2013). "9 Lifelogging Apps to Log Personal Data". Mashable. 
  32. ^ Nate Swanner (July 9, 2014). "These three iOS apps make life-logging fun and easy". Slash Gear. 
  33. ^ Ellis Hamburger (February 6, 2014). "Reporter for iPhone tracks your whole life, one quiz at a time". The Verge. 
  34. ^ Panzarino, Matthew. "Lark expands from a sleep monitor to a full on coaching service". The Next Web. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  35. ^ Buckley, Sean. "Lighter tracks your smoking habits to shame you to quit". Engadget. Retrieved 4 June 2014.