Gauging the Natural, and Digital, Rhythms of Life
Walking, sleeping, talking: it’s the stuff of everyday life. Add sensors that track all of it, and suddenly everyday life becomes an opportunity for knowledge.
Electronic bracelets like Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex tally information like the number of steps taken each day and hours of sleep. Those personal statistics, the line goes, can inspire people to move more, eat better, sleep longer.
Or at least that is the line for the generally affluent, health-conscious people who wear these things.
“There’s an element of narcissism, but also narcissism is good to the extent that it makes you healthy,” said Esther Dyson, a technology investor who wears several body sensors herself, often at the same time.
An individual’s biometric statistics — call them small data — could get a lot more intriguing and useful for everyone if they were pooled into giant vats of data from thousands or even millions of people. Researchers are starting to use body sensors, including the ubiquitous smartphone, to glean a deeper understanding of how behavior, environment and other factors are related to disease.
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