Florian Schumacher regularly writes and speaks about health, technology and personal data and is co-organiser of the Berlin Quantified Self Meetup Group. Aiming to explore the potential of technology and “life-logging” for health, well-being and personal development, he wants to support the German startup community to catch up with one of the biggest technology trends of the future…
How can you feel better, get fit or be more productive? A growing number or people use technology in order to find answers to these questions. “Self knowledge through numbers” is the credo of the so-called “Quantified Self” movement, a global network whose members share an interest in self-tracking and self-experimentation.
Started by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2008 as a meetup group in San Francisco’s Bay Area, the movement now has more than 90 groups worldwide in which people connect and share. With the new, English-speaking Berlin Quantified Self Meetup Group, my co-organisers and I aim to establish this culture in the German capital. We’re looking forward to supporting a community of users and makers of self-tracking products and techniques. Let’s have a look at some of the best existing tools for fitness, sleep, productivity and life-logging..
The Fuelband is an activity monitor that measures steps and other forms of physical activity. The difference between the Fuelband and most other pedometers is that the Fuelband is worn at the wrist and converts the user’s physical activity into a fitness “currency” called Nike Fuel, which in turn contributes to a “fitness score” that integrates with other Nike products (like the Nike+ Kinect game, below) and can be tracked online.
Nike+ Kinect Training
Fresh off the shelves, this XBox game comes with a personal trainer that helps you get stronger, tighten your body or lose weight. Kinect‘s cameras capture every move you make, analysing your flexibility, fitness and athletic level. By using these measurements, Kinect’s personal “coach” can suggest exercises that are just right in difficulty and motivate you throughout the workout.
Withings WiFi Scale
Withings WiFi scale transmits your weight automatically via your WiFi router to the company’s servers and lets you access it via web and mobile apps. Integrated graphs, weight goals and a stunning design make weight tracking comfortable and fun as never before.
Zeo Sleep Manager
Zeo has developed a headband with built-in electrodes that measure your brain waves during the night. Zeo‘s algorithms detect how much of your sleep is in the crucial deep and REM phases, and helps you improve your sleep quality. The headband connects via bluetooth to your smartphone, where you can see graphs and charts of your sleep phases.
This personal genome-sequencing service lets you have a look at your genetic dispositions. The information provided by 23andMe can help to prevent illness by pointing to methods for early discovery and may help to better understand one’s individual metabolics. The Silicon Valley based company has recently acquired Cure Together, a platform for crowdsourced patient information. Bringing together genomic and health data might lead to a better understanding of the role of genomes for our health in the future.
RescueTime tracks every one of your actions on your computer or Android smartphone, giving you feedback on how much time you spent on productive applications and how much you waste on social networks or news sites.
RescueTime lets you compete in productivity with your fellow users but can also just give you a deep analytical look into your own computer and internet behaviour.
TicTrac is a plattform that ties together all the data collected by different sensors and services. That way, you can have your sleep data, stepcount, Foursquare check-ins and lots of other datapoints in one place and search for correlations in your measured life.
TicTrac is in pre-beta and should have great potential for self-tracking enthusiasts.
Archify is a “mindfile” of the digital information you watch and consume. The plugin tracks every website, mail or social media posting you see, generates a screenshot and makes it accessible in a personal search engine. The startup, which is going to start its beta test soon, will present Archify in the Demo Hour at the Berlin Quantified Self Meetup on 22 November.
Memoto is a wearable camera made for life-logging. The flat device can be clipped to your clothes and takes a picture every 30 seconds. An intelligent web based application helps deal with the huge amount of pictures the camera records over the time and allows you to tap into your memories. Memoto appeared on Kickstarter just two weeks ago and has already achieved eight times the amount of its initial funding goal.
The latest on the Quantified Self..
Many of the users and makers of this kind of tools meet in Quantified Self groups all over the world. In addition to those regular events, back in September – 600 people gathered for the Quantified Self conference in Palo Alto and discussed personal experiences, new ideas and the meaning of data for the self and for the society.
At this conference, I had the chance to find two great speakers for our next Quantified Self event for the Berlin tech community. Steven Dean is a designer, educator at NYU, and entrepreneur in the digital health space. Dean, the organiser of the New York QS group, will give a keynote talk about the history and background of Quantified Self and his personal experience with self-tracking while preparing for an Iron Man competition.
Denis Harscoat, co-founder of the Paris and London Quantified Self groups is an expert on the tracking of actions and the concept of the programmable self. He will speak about self-tracking of actions and what it takes to reach excellence in work and other areas in life. Apart from these guest speakers, we will also have talks from the Berlin self-trackers and a demo hour with the Berlin startups to showcase their Quantified Self-related products. Join us November 22nd for an inspiring event.
Image credit: Flickr user bass_nroll