“Have you heard of the quantified self?” my coworker asked me. After a puzzled stare and a furrowed brow I assured her I hadn’t. So of course I immediately clicked over to a new tab and typed “quantified self” in the browser. Turns out I had heard of this concept, I’d just never put a name to it. In fact, I’d been partaking in this movement for years – tracking my whereabouts with Foursquare, logging my calorie intake with MyFitnessPal and recording my workouts with RunKeeper. I even had a stint with Saga, the app that tracked your every single move without you having to do anything! Just install the app and let ‘er rip.
There are a ton of apps and wearable devices dedicated solely to this purpose of tracking and quantifying oneself, all with the ideal goal of finding correlations and being able to improve upon your productivity, fitness, and overall well-being. The Zeo monitor straps to your head, monitors your sleep cycles, and comes equipped with a programmable alarm clock that wakes you at the optimal phase of sleep. Adidas has a chip called miCoach you place in your shoe and it will record your speed, subsequently breaking down your recorded data graphically on their website. Samsung hopped on this trend and partnered with Foursquare to visually capture your whereabouts with their Foursquare Time Machine. Of course curiosity got the better of me and I gladly gave them access to my Foursquare check-ins. Take all of my data, Samsung! Link all of my accounts? Suuure. The more the merrier. Just remember to spit back a cool interactive image so I can see all of my data.
I’m not alone in my curiosity. It was reported last year that wearable monitoring devices raked in an estimated $800 million in sales. And it doesn’t stop there. IMS Research projects that the wearable technology market will exceed $6 billion by 2016. People are buying into this self-tracking movement. So why the obsession?